I love to read. I love to think about and talk about what I read. I tend to insist that Darrell read books that engross me so that he too will share my consuming experience – sometimes, ha, not so much? So these I have recently convinced him download to his phone and then discuss with me: The Passage by Justin Cronin, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (actually the entire series), 11/22/63 by Stephen King and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Next, will he go for The Hunger Games?
My earliest reading experiences were probably interacting more with pictures that with words. I spent a lot of happy hours puttering around and playing at my grandmother’s house. In the corner of her living room was a small bookcase filled with volumes of mystery. Some were textbooks that my uncle had used at Texas Tech – I remember the capital T logo. Titles I don’t remember but I liked the look, the feel, the smell, the aura of importance. In the “little room” that was multi purposed as an office/laundry room was another bookshelf that held stacks of magazines: Better Homes and Gardens, Readers Digest, McCall's, U.S. News and World Report and The Upper Room. My favorite was the Better Homes & Gardens with colorful pictures on every page – pretty houses, pretty women, good food, beautiful flowers, and happy families – all strong images for day dreams of a little girl. The Upper Room had a few cover art pieces of scenes familiar from my Sunday School stories – Noah’s ark, peace dove, rainbow, David the shepherd, Baby Jesus.
Educational research claims the strong correlation between books in the home and a child’s later educational achievement level:
ScienceDaily (May 20, 2010) Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, according to a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics. Evans said, "Even a little bit goes a long way," in terms of the number of books in a home. Having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books you add, the greater the benefit.
Growing up in the preschool years of the 1950’s all this research was not yet available to let families know the significance of books in the household, still I was the benefactor of living in a house of love where the adults also liked to spend some time reading.
Ms. Evan’s research is the core belief behind one of our church outreach programs, Project Read. Children’s books are donated and distributed to families in areas serviced by free lunches for children in the summer. Hopefully, the books they take home will push them to attain more years of education.
Last year in the days following our pastor Ken Diehm’s death, the staff encouraged us to continue a habit that Ken had started among the congregation called 10 and 10. Ken had written a daily blog of reflective thoughts on a Bible scripture selection. He encouraged us to spend 10 minutes reading the Bible and 10 minutes in prayer each day. In the absence of his daily writing, they told us to use a published daily devotional, The Upper Room. That publication was the same one my grandmother had followed in her daily reading years ago. It helped fill a void in Ken’s absence and I still follow it along with our new pastor’s 10&10 blog every day. The story today would be special for my mother because it talks about the sacred moments found in quilting. http://devotional.upperroom.org/
God created us as curious creatures with a daunting desire to know more, to see more, to experience more, to understand more. Stories help us do that – they expand our world beyond our immediate sights. Jesus taught us with his stories, the parables, to attend to our desires to know and understand his spiritual kingdom. So what are we trying so hard to find out?
A famous mathematician/philosopher who lived hundreds of years ago, Blaise Pascal, described the dilemma of human existence as a God-shaped vacuum in the center of the human heart. Pascal’s written words tell us that “this infinite abyss can be filled with an infinite and immutable object – in other words, by God himself.” So is our driving quest for knowledge, really a brick in the road of our journey to know God?
Mamaw’s traditions of reading Better Homes and Gardens magazines and The Upper Room devotionals have passed on to me. I still enjoy the inspiring artwork and encouraging stories. The publications are now marked as aps on my I pad.
Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables.
Luke 24:44-45 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.
Proverbs 4:5 Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.