Book lover, ponderer, that I am, my list of 'must-read' books grows exponentially during the summer as I mark one book after the other off the list that has been growing over the winter months. With my children it seems that only in summer do I get to devour one book after another. But in every pile there are always a few that demand pause, a savor... repeated turning back of pages to ponder a thought, a line...such is this book.
I join the ranks of reviewers (Anne and Andrea, for example) who have a hard time categorizing this book, Stone Crossings (InterVarsity Press). It is memoir. Yet, it is also a journal, a working out of thoughts. A treatise, if you will. An expansion, and yet, a contraction of what a spiritual walk looks like. It teaches, just as it learns...I have never met LL in person, and have only recently begun to get to know her online...but I have a feeling I could pick her out of a crowd and call her kindred in a second. The work is so suffused with a graceful "thinking out loud" sort of conversational way to it. You'll need a hot pot of tea or coffee and a quiet hour for this...you'll not want to leave when it is over either.
This is a "dwelling" book, as I call them. You dwell with it, turn it over in you mind, sit with it a while, remembering morsels here and there...it is is also a building block sort of a book...the book has only been in my hands two weeks (as usual, I read it in a day) and I can already see where its affect has fallen on my life...enabling me to consider different paths I had not even noticed before. She speaks of stones, but in my minds' eye, I saw a secret garden, upon which each door opens onto a more beautiful and ponderous vista than the one that came before. You could probably read it a million times and come a way with something new. It is suffused through out with Scripture and thought to engage and sharpen you.
I find it hard to talk about just one aspect, just one thing...I started to make notes and discovered that I would end up copying over practically the whole book. It is all wonderful, thoughtful, engaging. I found myself drawn in particular to Ch 12, Clefts of the Rock~Responsibility. Others probably would be affected by different chapters. But for me, this caught me right where I am at...in a transition from youth to adult, from no cares to responsibility that wears down upon one in the middle of the night. Oh yes, I've been married six years and have children ranging in ages from five to less than a year, but it's only within the last year or two that I have fully accepted that I am in fact an adult. Even then, I still slip and try to hand off my calling and responsibilities in a childlike way. LL gently reminds:
We are each like little kings privileged with a patch of ground, even if it's less than a quarter acre, like mine, and more likely to grow dandelions than a vineyard. We each hold a scepter of influence. And we each exist in the narrow "clefts of the rock " like the Song's lovers (Song of Solomon 2:14)- In relationship to someone, or a group of people, or even God, who all spy eagerly to see what our face and voice will reveal. We are each, to put it simply, responsible for our blessedness. Whether or not we let temptations woo us into irresponsibility is up to us. (pg. 89)
She continues on in the chapter talking about the consequences and benefits of being responsible, and what it means in life. What is striking about the book is how gently, yet how straightforward, LL touches upon the most painful and troublesome of issues. You don't leave the book feeling preached at- if anything you feel inspired to go deeper in your own walk of faith.
You will truly enjoy this book...and it'll probably find a home on your favorite bookshelf. I know it did on mine...
LL Barkat's blog is Seedlings in Stone. (She also has two others, a poetry blog and a green living blog). You can find a discussion blog for Stone Crossings here. And of course, for the ever expanding wish list, here it is on Amazon. You can find out more about LL and her book here.