May 13, 2008

In the bedroom that serves as my office there are two bookcases that sit on either side of my prayer table: the one on the left for Tracey and her Star Trek memorabilia collection, the one on the right for all my books.

One look at my bookcase reveals the eclectic nature, I suppose, of both my interests and the life-path I have trod. The two bottom shelves are reserved for very large and bulky books, like a couple of Bibles given me over the years, a coffee table book on Mississippi River plantations, The Beatles Anthology, and a number of books on popular music. The second to the botton serves as a transition to the shelves above it – a few more books on popular music separated from several books on theology by a basket containing various supplies for burning incense.

On the three shelves above that one contain a cornucopia of books on faith and religion, and it’s amazing to me how a at the various titles brings back memories of my spiritual journey. There’s Henri Nouwen’s The Genesee Diary, Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk, and Thomas Merton’s The Seven Story Mountain – the first books I bought after my religious awakening back in 1994 when I first heard God’s call to the priesthood. And, practically every book Nouwen and Merton ever wrote in paperback. There are also lots of books on Anglicanism and Anglican church history – a biography of Thomas Cranmer, several books on the Oxford Movement, a 3-volume set of Richard Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Authority (neither of which has ever been opened), and everal books by Anglican theologian N.T. Wright; these books reflecting those formative years spent learning about the Church and faith as I discerned my priestly calling through Don and Eunice Schatz at Life/Work Direction and the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts’ ordination process.

And there are the books associated with the four years we spent in Kentucky. Scattered among these particular shelves are the few remaining books associated with my two semesters spent at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary – while only eight years ago, it seems like two or three lifetimes ago to me! (All the others – 50 or so, easily worth hundreds of dollars – I donated to a certain student in financial need just before we left Louisville for Massachusetts.) Strange to think that for six months I actually played full-time seminary student. While these books don’t do much for me anymore (I can’t imagine a late-night relaxing session in a cozy nook drinking deeply of Barth’s Church Dogmatics!) they do represent an unforgettable and incredibly exciting period in my life.

Finally, there is the top row, reserved for the “good stuff” – my Harper Collins and Harper NRSV Study Bibles, the Bible I received on my on my confirmation back in 1967, several Episcopal Church prayer books, the box of “flash cards” recalling my semester of Ancient Greek, my purple and green prayer table linens, and the New Testament on tape (narrated by Gregory Peck, no less!). Looking at that particular box, I still remember all those daily 1-hour commutes from Louisville to Frankfort and back when we first moved to Kentucky, and those 45-minute drives between Louisville and Elizabethtown, where I went to church. Mr. Peck was a welcome companion during those long drives, and every now and then, when I hear a certain passage read from a lectern (like Jesus’ parables, for instance) I still hear them in Peck’s voice.

For more than six years these books, once enthustically devoured, poured over, their pages annotated, highlighted, and/or and dog-eared as deemed essential to my spiritial formation, sat unused and neglected (at various times boxed and in storage) as the light of my faith and my calling (not to mention me) flamed out following my unpleasant dealings with the Episcopal Church back in 2001. Arriving here in Arizona back in the fall of 2003, the books were unboxed and arranged in the bookcase, but for all the attention both it (and the prayer table) received in our first years here they might just as well have been back in storage in Massachusetts.

In the past year, however, the rekindling of my faith and interest in theology and Catholicism has brought me back in contact with these once-neglected but never forgotten friends, and revisiting them – whether for a full re-read or just a few page browse – I find it both comforting and reassuring that God has brought us back together again.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:36 | Comments Off on The Bookcase
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