Forever, Emily Dickinson said, is composed of nows. But how do you inhabit the now you are in? How do you stop the ghosts of all the other nows from getting in? How, in short, do you live?~Matt Haig (From How To Stop Time)
I realized in that moment that others view me as old. And it's not only the silver hair. I sat in the waiting room prepared to see the optician for my annual eye exam. Due to COVID, I was the only patient. The doctor opened the door to the waiting room and when he saw me reading, asked, "Priscilla, have you returned to school? I notice you reading a book." Somewhat confused, I looked up, put my finger in the book to save my place and replied, "No, it's a library book. I always bring a book with me when I think I might have to wait." He said, "Oh, people don't usually read 'real' books anymore unless it's a text book. The screens--they're actually hard on the eyes--interfere with circadian rhythms and all that. I'm trying to go the old-fashinoned way, you know, take my kids to the library." I nodded, realizing how holding the book aged me. Placed me in the category of "vintage." "Yes," I said. "Libraries are one of the most civilized and comforting places I know." And with that, he ushered me into the low light of the exam room and began to peer into my eyes.
During COVID, the library and books have helped me to inhabit the now by taking me away. I keep a log of the books I read each year. I've read thirty books in 2020. Below I highlight my top five, though this is difficult, as I've enjoyed parts of all thirty...
A Month In Siena by Hisham Matar--A short memoir highlighting paintings the author observed in his time browsing a Sienese museum in Italy.
How To Stop Time by Matt Haig--A man who has a rare condition that causes him to age slowly confronts how to keep the desire to live intact over the centuries.
So Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb--A psychotherapist shares her own therapy experience while simultaneously treating her own patients.
Writers and Lovers by Lily King--Follows a woman who holds fast to her desire to write.
The Psalms (The Passion Translation)--This poetry has strengthened me day after day with its beauty and comfort. Stopped the ghosts from other "nows" from getting in.
It has been a tough year. Many of you have shared your challenges...job losses and financial struggle, illness and even death of loved ones by COVID, unanticipated non-COVID health issues and accidents. Strained relationships. The grief and loss is palpable on multiple levels. Collectively, we as a world have endured much and continue to do so. I pray that as you inhabit whatever "now" you are in, you experience the freedom of knowing that it is not what you do, or what you have or what people think of you that is the most important. May you realize that you are the beloved of God. That He delights to resource you and longs as you long to fulfill your destiny.
End note: This will be my last post for the year. I am transitioning into a new season as I relocate. I hope to see you back on the page sometime in February of the New Year. Until then, love to you and yours. Merry Christmas and fresh hope for a brilliant 2021.