Monday, March 1, 2010
What I'm Reading Now: An Altar in the World
From the chapter, "The Practice of Paying Attention," An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor:
"I learned reverence from my father. For him, it had nothing to do with religion and very little to do with God. I think it may have had something to do with his having been a soldier, since the exercise of reverence generally includes knowing your rank in the overall scheme of things. From him I learned by example that reverence was the proper atitude of a small and curious human being in a vast and fascinating world of experience. This world included people and places as well as things. Full appreciation of it required frequent adventures, grand projects, honed skills, and feats of daring. Above all, it required close attention to the way things worked, including one's own participation in their working or not working."
This is a book not about belief, but practice. As such, I keep reading it as if she were writing about the practice of writing for children. Do we write as if were "a small and curious human being in a vast and fascinating world of experience?" Do we make room in our stories for "frequent adventure, honed skills and feats of daring"? And if our characters do not ever realize their own participation in the world "working or not working," then how can we say they have lived at all?