Our first book:
Call It Grace: Finding Meaning in a Fractured World by Serene Jones
Most of you know I’m writing a memoir about my experience in Freudian psychoanalysis so it won’t be a surprise to hear that I’ve been reading lots of memoirs. I would categorize this book, initially borrowed from the Urbandale Public Library, as a memoir with spiritual and theological themes.
When reading a book that I can’t mark up or underline, I use an envelope as a bookmark and as paper to jot down page numbers with a word or two that describes what I want to remember. (I have hundreds of different colored envelopes from when Mom was recycling cards) The pink envelope in Jones’s book has eighteen page numbers – any book with over five pages listed probably needs to be purchased.
There are 306 pages in this book. My first page notation on page 195, occurred when Jones tackled the subject of forgiveness, a topic with which I struggle to understand and do. Her issue? How to forgive Timothy McVeigh, domestic terrorist in Oklahoma, the state where she grew up.
Her search for answers led her to the work of Howard Thurman who she quotes:
“Hatred tends to dry up the springs of creative thought in the life of the hater, so that one’s resourcefulness becomes completely focused on the negative aspects of one’s environment.”
Contemplating this, Jones writes:
“His words hurt me because they were so accurate.”
We are in the midst of an impeachment trial as I write this and I can’t help but think that Thurman is correct, the hatred that is part of our country now is not bringing forth the creative, positive parts of us. What can we each do to lessen hatred?
Further on in the book, Jones writes about imagination, a topic we’ve pondered here at exploring the mystery:
” We all have an imagination – it simply refers to that vast web of images, thoughts, memories, words, feelings, experiences, fantasies, meanings, desires, dreams, hopes, and relationships that make up how we perceive and engage the world and out selves. It’s impossible not to have one, and even more, it’s not something you turn off in order to see things as they really are. Our imagination is the lens through which we experience everything.”
This book is full of thought provoking ideas and having purchased a copy, I hope to reread because there is a lot to learn here.
Serene Jones is the first woman president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a single mother, a sister, a cancer survivor, a theologian, a minister, a news commentator, a public intellectual, and a devoted teacher. And a writer! A sentence I found at the end of the book sounded like something a woman with all those roles would say:
“Assuredness, as I understand it, is a state of mind marked by trust and confidence in what you know, even when it cannot be factually proven.”
I’ve enjoyed sharing this book with you and would love to know how you would answer just one of these questions: How do you keep track of information you find in books, or what do you do with forgiveness or hatred, or how do you define imagination or what do you think Jones means by assuredness. Do you feel assured? Please leave one or more comments below. Or imagine doing it!
CLUE to living a full rich life: Imagine that you have forgiven the person who hurt you the most. Then imagine that what they did was not about you, but about them. Put your hand on your heart for a moment and feel the warmth. Take a deep breath. Smile.
IMAGE: The Guardian remains covered with snow clothing and hat.