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Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Dayz of Summer

Now that September is breathing down our backs, I am full of regret for the unfinished summer projects I had planned. Not enough poems written. Not enough blogs completed. Not enough books read. Not enough progress on the Big Effort of this summer: compiling an update of the last 25 years in the life of the NC Council of Churches.

Awhile back, in a weak and crazy moment, I volunteered for this latter task. Now, most of the notes are gathered and I am working on ways to fit it all together, following a rather hazy plan I have in mind. As the incoming President of the Council, I knew this work would provide a solid background for me in my understanding of the Council's work from its beginning in 1935. What an amazing collection of church folks have carried on the continuing work and ministries for peace and justice in this state and perhaps beyond as a result! I've been meeting for a year or so now with a committee seeking to re-order Council's structure into a more effective body, recognizing the shifting nature of church governance and internal structures that this 21st century has demonstrated.

The other largely unfulfilled summer goal was to produce a number of chip carvings. I have managed to come up with some wedding gifts, under the pressure of deadlines, but not nearly as many pieces as I'd like to have worked on. There have been coasters, a plate, some plaques for hanging . . . and now I will finish another set of coasters, and launch into a commissioned carving on a breadboard for a high school classmate.

What have I read this summer? Beginning with June, I read a marvelous poetry collection by Kathleen L. Housley: Firmament. She writes exquisite poems, faultlessly executed, full of meaning.
Joan Chittister: In My Own Words, a collection of excerpts from many of her writings.
Kate Northrup: Things Are Disappearing Here, expressive poems by a gifted poet.
Mary Lou Kownacki: A Monk in the Inner City: The ABC's of a Spiritual Journey. Powerful narratives of her experiences as a Benedictine Sister in her ministries of justice. (She is also a very fine poet.)
Philip Wickeri: Reconstructing Christianity in China: K.H. Ting and the Chinese Church. An amazing and comprehensive study of Ting's life and the story of the church in China.
William Paul Young: The Shack. After ignoring the popularity of this book and determined not to read it, I did pick up a copy and found it to be a most interesting and curious approach to a theological understanding of the Trinity and of grief -- and generally quite acceptible.
Fred Chappell: Spring Garden: New and Selected Poems. One of my favorite writers -- and I wrote my Master's Thesis many years ago on Randall Jarrell under his supervision.
Although it was a reading last spring, I must comment on David Wroblewski's amazing novel,
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. It ranks with best of books that I have read, and it is his first novel!

Perhaps these lazy hazy dayz have not been as unproductive as I have considered them. I've been writing, carving, reading, and even more fulfilling, spending lots of time with our children and their families and friends. So it's been a good season. I am thankful.