Long ago and far away (when my family lived in California), I checked out several Heartsong books from the church library. My dad frowned. Fiction? I should be reading serious stuff.
Flash forward to this year. My first book, Friends and Enemies, came out in January. My dad has read it. He is amazed at his daughter’s talent! When I read this article in In Touch magazine, it was like a blessing on my endeavor.
Glory and a Good Book
Thirty years have passed since I was a child playing on my grandmother’s West Texas farm, but I can still feel the flutter in my stomach as I chased my cousins from the top of one hay bale to the next. On those long summer afternoons, I was the only one who sometimes slipped into the shade between the bales with a book. After dark, while the adults talked above the noise of the cicadas and the kids dug into watermelons brought in from the field, I would sit near the single porch light and read. Inevitably, someone would notice me there beneath the circling moths and make a joke about the child who ignored an actual farm in order to read Farmer Boy.
The sting in that family joke was that I preferred a black-and-white facsimile to the full-color reality of a farm in summer. Heat, humidity, and mosquitoes are no bother in a book, and hay no longer scratches. I did read to escape. Though I have persisted in my book-loving ways, I still sometimes wonder if my parents were right when they shouted toward the backseat on every family road trip, “Pull your nose out of that book and just look at these mountains!”
As another summer nears, God’s creation will soon attain its blue-sky, bright-sun glory. And though we’ll continue to meet with the Lord in our churches, this is also the season for seeking Him on mountain hikes and kayak trips. In the months ahead, we will taste the goodness of God in salt spray and backyard barbecues. But is it really so wrong to lower our eyes from all that glory to read the pages of a book?
Since those days on the farm, I have learned that a good book, even when chosen from a desire to escape the world, gives us far more than we bargained for. We are born with eyes, but a good book teaches us to see. A good book shows us how even an ordinary dirt-brown farm is saturated not only with beauty but also with significance. No matter the genre we choose, when we follow a narrative from conflict to resolution, or when we notice a writer’s message in a small detail or ordinary image, we are learning how to see the great Author of us all.
Every reader knows that a good book shines with order, beauty, and meaning. And one of the great joys of the Christian life is our knowledge that the real world shines with the same.