As a child, I was a voracious reader. I spent more of my time reading than just about anything – when I got too old for picture books, I absorbed Nancy Drew mysteries. By the time I finished those, I was reading well enough that Mom introduced me to Agatha Christie. Even ‘going outside to play’ often meant reading while laying on a patch of grass or on top of a boulder or leaning against a tree or while dangling my feet in the creek. I continued my reading habits into my adult life – mysteries, classics, a little bit of fantasy, an occasional romance, always contributing somehow to my active imagination, characters and ideas living on in my mind.
When I attended Meredith College to finish my bachelor’s degree, I found I was only reading for school, so I delighted in the summer breaks and the post-BA time to dive back into reading for pleasure. Novels crept back in, but also a lot more non-fiction.
And then I went to graduate school. I don’t care what you’re studying in graduate school, there is a pile of reading so many miles high you skip half of it and still spend all your time reading. Some of the reading is life-changing, and some, well, you read because you just KNOW that’s what your professor is going to fixate on and you better have a clue.
Even though I graduated in 2014, I still had a required reading list – 84 books and articles to read in preparation for the Ministerial Fellowship Committee. The readings cover a variety of topics – theology, Unitarian Universalist history, ethics, sexuality, anti-racism, leadership, congregational polity, management, spiritual growth, professional standards, pastoral care.
Now it is May. On April 8th, I was deemed qualified for preliminary fellowship (upon completion of my chaplaincy requirement). I don’t have to read for the MFC any more. I don’t have to read for my master’s anymore. I don’t have to read for my bachelor’s anymore.
Yes, I still do a lot of reading for sermon preparation and to continue to grow in my ministry. But I have some time now for reading that is not overshadowed by a mile-high pile of “must read” books.
I have no idea what to read.
So much of our experience as Unitarian Universalists is exploring the life of the mind – what we’re thinking, how we see the world, what we’re listening to, watching, reading. Often I get to share what’s going on in the life of my mind, but now – with this new opportunity to read things I’ve not been assigned – I want to know: What are you reading? What’s captured your attention? What are you exploring? What books help you escape? What columnists and bloggers and podcasts intrigue and enrich you?
Of course, feel free to shoot me an email or hand me a list – but more than that, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to think about what is capturing your attention right now, what is energizing and comforting the life of your mind.