Half-finished Books

The window of our guest room here in the Texas hill country looks out through tree cover of cedar and oak to the hills and blue sky. With the grey of morning I rise, curious and expectant as when I was a child who couldn’t wait to go and play. The world outside the window, with its magnetic birdsong and sunshine, pulls me.

Below the windowsill stand propped four books. They travelled with me, securely packed in our Honda CRV, over the long plains all the way from Canada. Like many, I believed that while on holiday, far from the responsibilities and distractions of home and work, I would want to read my books.  

No one is pressuring me to pick up these volumes with bookmarks slivered between their pages. They were books I requested as Christmas presents, eagerly pre-ordered before release, or pounced upon at the second-hand store. I truly believed I would love each one. That book, recommended by a trusted friend, would inspire me to see fresh intersections between faith and art. This book would open new connections between understanding mental health and God’s healing grace. Through that book would come “a-ha” moments of self-discovery. In each case, what I began in energetic hope simply fizzled. Reading, like life, can be like that. It’s just not the right time for a particular message or challenge; for whatever reason, I clearly wasn’t ready. Will this be the day I open my books?

Instead, I strap on my sandals, pick up my binoculars, and step out the door into moist, gentle air. I disturb a gray fox who barks sternly at the intrusion. Red, blue, and green Painted Buntings flit through a seedy field, and the Golden-cheeked Warblers feed among green branches. Below is the river where the tiny Green Heron steps deliberately through muddy shallows, intent on minnows scattering before him. Along the dusty gravel road is the spot where the surprising glimpse of a shy Greater Roadrunner prompted laughing banter with friends about cartoon characters from our youth. My swimsuit hangs to dry, damp from yesterday’s exultant swim with new friends in the clear green water of the Blue Hole. 

Today there will be beauty, friends, music, and food to inspire, to open new connections, and I will say “a-ha”. Perhaps, filled up with sunlight and wonder, buoyant from floating carefree on green water, I will recognize the grace and receive the energy I need to pick up a half-finished book, this half-finished life.

17 thoughts on “Half-finished Books”

  1. Beautiful imagery! It sounds so lovely there. I especially loved hearing about all the delightful birds that we don’t get to see here on the prairies. I’m happy to hear you are enjoying your retreat.

    1. Thank you, Nancy. I find a setting like this, so completely different from what we know, to be very stimulating and enjoyable. We’re grateful for the opportunity. See you in July!

  2. What a beautiful read. Tranquil indeed. Thank you. Happy Monday. We Love you.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Beautiful post Darlene. As ever.
    And it seems to me that you ARE reading avidly, deeply with all your soul’s senses from the book of Nature!
    Thank you for sharing.

  4. I love the way you right! He make me feel like I’m sitting right there with you

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. You nailed that feeling of not wanting to finish your books! I’m in the same mode & my inspiration these days comes from what you described. Nature & friends new & old can be the medicine we need . Tom & I have been walking Wascana lake & truly enjoying the birds & flowers. So much beauty , an escape that nourishes our souls🥰

  6. I filled in the comment, but I am unsure you will get it. Bruce Waltke Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Regent College, Vancouver Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Knox Theological Seminary

    1. Hello Bruce. No, I haven’t seen a comment. I hope that you are well and enjoying your summer. We just spent some time at Laity Lodge in Texas, where we chatted with Steven Purcell about the summer we were all together at Schloss Mittersill. We have such happy memories of our times (too few these days) with you. Sending love from Dean and I.

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