Word Ablution


The ablution of words continues. On my days off I sit with a stack of books and immerse. It’s a lovely way to avoid the laundry and thoughts of sending Teddy off to school in the fall. Would you like to know what’s in the stack right now? I’ve shared a bit in other posts, but here is what I’m currently baptizing my mind with:

  1. I’ve shared about how my thoughts are running wild as I re-read my old favorite Women Who Run With the Wolves. I’ve been stuck on the fifth task of Vasalisa the Wise this week. Perhaps I’ll write more about that later.
  2. The writing book I’m working through has inspired me to listen better. I’ve started Writing Down the Bones several times, but this time around I’m committed to finishing. I think, before, my faith was too narrow to appreciate Natalie’s Buddhist perspectives. But now, I love when Natalie talks about her Zen teachers/masters. I let these lessons speak to my Christian roots and am finding the shared soilbed encourages them to tendril deeper. Often, I get a little weepy with the desire that our Christian mindset would be so tender, so generous toward the earth and ourselves.
  3. While my running life is slowed, I’ve been enjoying walking some with Jeff. A timely read recommended by a friend, A Philosophy of Walking, has added to the enjoyment.
  4. Nothing makes me happier than a new children’s book to feed my hungry eyes. I found a lovely one while researching a children’s message to go with my sermon last week. Sidewalk Flowers is so beautiful, and tells the story of noticing life without any words at all. I like to sit with it and study the thoughtful images. I haven’t grown tired of the tender story yet. I adore it. I can’t wait to share it with the kindergarteners I will read aloud to next year.


5.  A few years ago I purchased Stevens: Collected Poetry and Prose after stumbling into one of Wallace Stevens’ poems that shook me up a bit. Ever the student, I ordered a reader’s guide by Eleanor Cook to go along with the weighty volume. But after a friend and poet I deeply respect commented that she has a “visceral reaction” (not in a good way) every time she sees the black cover of this book, I quietly shelved it, second-guessing my judgement, and went back to reading Wendell and Mary for a while. Here’s a word for beginning poetry readers: follow your heart where it leads you. I am learning so much about poetry from this duo.

For example, I kept coming across the word “trope” in the reader’s guide. Having never studied poetry, I didn’t know what this term meant. Eleanor Cook generously tells me, “A trope is a figure of speech in which meaning is turned or changed.” A metaphor is a type of trope. And Eleanor tells me, “It means ‘transport’ etymologically. Literally in modern Greece … you may actually ride on a bus called metaphora.” From Eleanor, I learned that in my favorite stanza of Stevens’ Le Monocle de Mon Oncle (The Monocle of My Uncle), stanza II, “wind” and “wet” and “wing” are “all common types of trope for song or poetry.” Isn’t that cool?

Eleanor says that “reading figures of speech by distinguishing tropes and schemes” is like “distinguishing birdsongs and birdcalls.” Well, anyone who knows me knows learning the language of the birds is something I rather enjoy. So this may be one reason I am drawn to the poetry of Wallace Stevens. He and Eleanor Cook are teaching me to pay closer attention to words.

  1. I always end my reading by praying the Psalms, reading once from my Bible and then again from Praying the Psalms, an old favorite that invites my heart to step onto the wide path of the Psalmist’s words.

There are more books and more lessons, but these I am dipping into every day. What are you reading?



  1. says

    I just put some titles on hold at the library. Thanks:) And I’m with you on avoiding thoughts about my eldest heading to college soon. Hugs.

    • says

      Oh, I’ve been thinking of you, my friend! I missed you so much at Jumping Tandem. I hope all is well in your world. Sending up prayers for your beautiful girl and all of your family.

  2. says

    Reading is a bit of a luxury for me these days. I love having Kindle on my cell phone, so I can “dip in” whenever I find myself with a moment or two. I recently discovered Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton-Porter, and what a delight it is!

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