Category Archives: Books

“The Wonderer” (4th stanza: Brain)

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This is the fourth of a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking hereThe first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here and the third is here.

Now, the fourth stanza of the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert Service:

Then oh! but how can I explain
The wondrous wonder of my Brain?
That marvelous machine that brings
All consciousness of wonderings;
That lets me from myself leap out
And watch my body walk about;
It’s hopeless – all my words are vain
To tell the wonder of my Brain.

A few observations about how the brain operates.  There is the “Eureka!” sort of moment; a realization of discovery.  There is the “Wow!” of wonder, of being taken aback at how another is thinking.  There is the pondering, the imagining of what might be.

EUREKA!  As a brand spanking new Computer Programmer in the “real world” in 1987 I was amazed at how my brain worked.  Computer coursework in college had not taught me exactly what I needed to know.  But it had taught me how to think to learn what I did need to know for using particular programming languages in a specific computing environment.  I marveled at how my brain made connections.

WOW!  My oldest nephew was about 4 years old when I pulled out the book God’s Paintbrush by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.  Upon hearing the title, B responded in a matter-of-fact tone, “It must be really big.”  It took me a moment to realize that God, who is pretty big to a preschooler, would have a really big paintbrush.

IMAGINE.  Ponder.  Contemplate.  Wonder.  About a creative endeavor.  About a career move.  About the words of a poem, the lyrics of a song, the phrases in a text.  About a relationship.  About God.

Holy God … assure us again that ear has not heard, nor eye seen, nor human imagination envisioned, what you have prepared for those you love you.   – From Book of Worship, United Church of Christ.

God has prepared things for those who love God that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.  – 1 Corinthians 2:9b CEB

 

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Language and Reading

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I’ve started the new year with two works of fiction.  One was added to my “to read” list as soon as I heard the author was preparing to release her next book.  The other was a Christmas gift.

Both books are written in English.  Both have language that stretches me.

Tony Hillerman has long been one of my parent’s favorite authors.  But it’s my first time to read one of his books.  I started The Blessing Way as bedtime reading on Tuesday.

I have read every book in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series – except the latest one – at least twice.  The Kingdom of the Blind went with me on Wednesday as waiting room reading.  Once started, I read it straight through, putting it down only to drive home, to prepare and eat supper, and to sleep.

Returning to the Hillerman book, I was struck by how I was challenged by the language.  The names of the native peoples, their names for places, and even some of the descriptions of the southwestern U.S. landscape are mostly foreign to me.  I have to concentrate to keep them straight.

Set in French speaking Canada, Penny’s books also include names of people and places which are mostly foreign to me.  Having done nothing with the French I took in college 34 years ago, decoding phrases written in French takes effort.  I have to concentrate.

Reading as an enjoyable pastime requires falling into the language.  Relaxing into the rhythm of words and phrases and sentences.  Being open to new vocabulary as well as new ideas.  Allowing the text to reveal a new or unfamiliar world.

What are you reading?  How is it challenging you to see more broadly or think more deeply?

So many books.  So little time.

 

Letter to Santa

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Written after reviewing the Iowa Public Radio’s Children’s Holiday Book Guide (click here to see it)

Dear Santa,

Please? Just one? I’ll let you choose.
One for every child, of whatever chronological age.
A book.

For fun.
For hope.
For growth.

To promote reading.
To encourage diversity.
To increase understanding.

I wanted to ask for one of each for me.
But that seemed greedy.
And I really do want everyone to have at least one.

Please.
Without checking the naughty and nice list.
A book for every child, of whatever chronological age.

Thank-you.

Love,
T.

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