First, there's The Daily Coyote, from the author of the blog of the same name. I've been getting my Charlie fix daily for months now, thanks to the great photography of Shreve Stockton, and I've loved reading the book. At the age of 10 days, Charlie the coyote came into Shreve's life--the book is the story of how they made a life together. Shreve slips in some observations of spirituality and the occasional church sign from the Methodist church in town, which amuses me no end.
I'm in the middle of my second reading of Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church. The first time I was reading a copy loaned to me by a friend, and it quickly became apparent that I needed to read it more slowly, and with pen in hand. Taylor's account of her struggle to be the perfect priest leads her out of the local church and into a broader understanding of who God is, and what it really means to be human. In so doing, she communicates her own pain and joy and conflict with honesty and integrity, and opens up our image of what God and service and spirituality are.
And last, Maya Angelou's Letter to My Daughter. This book was another loaner, and so I haven't rushed through it with pen in hand to highlight my favorite bits, but it's on my wishlist. She offers advice and affection to all of her daughters: not the flesh and blood girl she never had, but to all of us who live and love and questions. She recounts trauma in her life as it shaped her emotions and outlooks unflinchingly, but without brutality and without apology. From her chapter on Coretta Scott King:
I am besieged with painful awe at the vacuum left by the dead. Where did she go? Where is he now? Are they, as the poet James Weldon Johnson said, “resting in the bosom of Jesus”? If so, what about my Jewish loves, my Japanese dears, and my Muslim darlings. Into whose bosom are they cuddled?
I find relief from the questions only when I conceded that I am not obliged to know everything. I remind myself it is sufficient to know what I know, and that what I know, may not always be true.
"Painful awe" describes my response to this book fairly well. I've read it with deep appreciation and respect, and found much to ponder and enrich my life.
So there are some brief thoughts on these books. So much of what I read is junk, mind candy, just for fun, but I've enjoyed delving a little deeper with these three.
Got suggestions for good reads? Please let me know in the comments.