I know for those who are still in school summer reading lists can be more anxiety producing than sabbath-giving. But perhaps you are like me and find that coming up with a personal reading plan for the summer is as much an entry point for this season as Memorial Day hotdogs.
As I prepare to embark on sabbatical, this reading plan has taken on special life and significance. Some of you have inquired as to what I will be reading this summer to accompany me into the various wildernesses and sabbaths I’ll be exploring, so I thought I’d offer a few selections I’m most excited about. I’ve chosen not to immerse myself in books on wilderness or sabbath in particular, but instead look forward to the ways the wilderness and opportunities for sabbath retreat will open me to receive works of literature and poetry.
Into the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf. I’ve had this book on my list ever since Stephanie Paulsell was with us back in February. I’m ashamed to say I’ve not read anything by Woolf, so I’m especially excited to read this book Stephanie cited and interpreted so beautifully.
He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, The Faith of Art, by Christian Wiman. Many of you know that Christian Wiman is one of my favorite writers. I read this new book of his several months back but want to engage it more fully this summer. The book jacket describes it as his “love letter to poetry.”
Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson. Marilynn Robinson is another one of my favorite writers, but I’m again ashamed to say I have never read this one of her most beloved and highly regarded works.
A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry, by Mary Oliver. Before I dappled in writing sermons, I dabbled in writing poetry (still working on preaching, to be sure, but be grateful you haven’t been subjected to my poetry). The creative writing seminars I took as a senior in college ended up being among the most formative courses I took. I’m looking forward to reengaging this form over the summer.
The Stream and the Sapphire: Selected Poems on Religious Themes, by Denise Levertov. I’m just begun reading Levertov’s poems and I love them. This tiny collection offers a great introduction to her more spiritually centered work.
Poetry Magazine. Audrey got me a subscription for my birthday and I’ve loved the opportunity to read contemporary poets.
Liturgies for the Journey of Life, by Dorothy McRae-McMahon, and Every Moment Holy, by Douglas Kaine McKelvey. These two recommendations from my Dear Friends are collections of liturgies, prayers, and blessings to be used in personal and family life. Children seem to innately crave and respond to ritual, which means of course that people innately crave and respond to ritual. One of the great joys of these past few years has been passing down and creating family rituals. I’m looking forward to these resources for how to further center our time together as a family.