Lately, as the Internet lashed out at me with side-eyed judgment from all angles — I’m not liberal enough, I’m not listening enough, I’m not politically active enough — I’ve found shelter again in the tome. I have a pile of books on my nightstand. (The wheel of fortune may stop on any mood at the end of the bedtime dance.)
- The Book of Common Prayer. I received this beautiful burgundy copy at my confirmation in New York City in 2006. I love this passage from the 1789 preface: “It is a most invaluable part of that blessed ‘liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,’ that in his worship different forms and usages may without offence be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire.” Lately I’ve been excited to be in deeper relationship with God through reading a bit each night.
- The Abortionist: A Woman Against the Law, by Rickie Solinger. I’m interested in the stories, and not the judgment, behind abortion. Ruth Barnett was a Portlander who performed hundreds of thousands of abortions in a well-run clinic in Oregon before abortion became legal, and the author examines abortion law and attitudes through Barnett’s case study. “Our history shows us that neither criminal statutes nor censorious public attitudes were ever sufficient to stop women determined to decide for themselves whether and when to become a mother.
- All About Love: New Visions, by bell hooks. I was reminded of my desire to read bell hooks while in the children’s section with my son, alongside her Happy to Be Nappy. We left with Grump, Groan, Growl for him and All About Love for me. “Living life in touch with divine spirit lets us see the light of love in all living beings. That light is a resurrecting life force.” Amen.
- Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma, by Nancy Samalin. I don’t want my kids to remember me as a yeller, but what’s a girl to do? “By their nature, children bring to the family environment disorder, aggravation, ambiguity, and turmoil. They also bring warmth, humor, boundless energy, and creativity. Loving parents wonder how they can encourage the latter while enduring the former.” Yes. And there are funny stories.
- Radical Acceptance: Embracing your Life with the Heart of a Buddha, by Tara Brach, Ph. D. An excellent companion to Love and Anger (why not approach anger from a hundred different angles?). And this books starts with words from the poet Rumi, that I shall etch on my heart:
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
I’ll meet you there.