The Sound of the Life of the MindAs 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 some familiarity with the material.
Even after graduation, 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.
And despite having received fellowship several years ago, the habit of reading for pleasure hasn’t come back. Despite having more time, I find I don’t naturally turn to reading as an act of relaxation and self care. I didn’t notice that it was missing too much, until recently, when I realized how much I wanted to cling to my identity as A Reader and how little I was doing of it.
But I don’t know what to read. What’s new? What’s hot? Should I go back and recapture classics? Should I turn to an unfamiliar genre? Return to old favorites to get a running start? 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 drive to reclaim reading, and the 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 is intriguing and enriching 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.