My late Mother always believed that one of the most important things she ever did for her children was to teach them how to read. I still have the book that she taught me from. It’s a now somewhat tatty edition of Enid Blyton’s, Brer Rabbit Again. If I ever found a word that I couldn’t read or understand I would ask my Mum and she would explain or pronounce the word so that I could recognise it the next time I came across it. When I was at Junior School my favourite reading book was “History of the British Empire.” I kept it out for a whole year and it probably affected my world view and politics more than I might imagine!!
C S Lewis once famously claimed that, “We read to remind ourselves that we are not alone.” This is unquestionably true because we transpose into what we read something of ourselves. It was easy to see myself as Brer Rabbit when he got into trouble and I loved to imagine what it must have been like to be a soldier at the height of the British Empire living amongst pomp and pageantry!
As holidays approach folk often decide to take a new book away with them; or maybe to import onto their kindle. I have recently been given a copy of J L Carr’s, “A Month in the Coutry.” I’m sure it won’t take me too long to devour it. Sometimes, though we find a book that we can re read over and over again. I never tire of Waugh’s, “Brideshead Revisited” or Laurie Lee’s, “As I Walked out one Midsummer Morning”.
Only on Monday I came across a book that was bought me in 1990 when I was ordained to the priesthood. It is a leather bound copy of Thomas a’ Kempis’, Of The Imitation of Christ. It was written in the 15th century by a Roman Catholic monk and it a superb work of devotion that’s broken up into small chapters that are intended for daily use. It has so much in it that I find myself dipping back into the thought for the day more that once!! He covers such issues as truth, contrition, purity, humility, how to live a holy life and Holy Communion. The book is in essence an encouragement to follow Jesus in all aspects of our life.
Unlike my novels it has an abiding relevance for my own Christian life. We read to remind ourselves that we are not alone. Maybe this summer you might wish to pop into the local Christian bookshop and see what might be there to augment our other less spiritual reading. It seems to me that time away often provides the context for a greater degree of reflection and peaceful contemplation that when we are bound up in the busy – ness of life. Happy holy – days wherever you are going.