book slaps and bach

N.D. Wilson’s book Notes From the Tilt- A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World is just about perfect. It’s perfect for someone who has found themselves growing too comfortable just sitting off to the side watching life just pass by. Or honestly, not even paying that close attention to it. Beauty and wonder and things that delight are so easily pushed aside to make room for “things that must get done!” Like most people, I have the occasional “What am I doing here? What is life?” moments. If you gave me some paper and a pen I could write out a perfectly cogent, biblically accurate answer with verses and catechism questions/answers. But usually in those moments I just need a slap on the head. Just look around you (me)!

And this book? It’s the slap.

This world is beautiful but badly broken. St. Paul said that it groans, but I love it even in its groaning. I love this round stage where we act out the tragedies and the comedies of history. I love it with all of its villains and petty liars and self-righteous pompers. I love the ants and the laughter of wide-eyed children encountering their first butterfly. I love it as it is, because it is a story, and it isn’t stuck in one place. It is full of conflict and darkness like every good story. And like every good story, there will be an ending. I love the world as it is, because I love what it will be. I love it because it spins and tilts, because it’s dizzying, because of the night sky and the swirling lights. (p17)

Looking out through the lens of true ex nihilo creation – at a spoken world – everything becomes an artistic touch. Every crack in the plaster, every bathroom-dwelling spider, looks out at me like a stage prop, an author’s added texture, a fellow character living at this time, inhabiting the same paragraph that I do.

There are Christians in the world who bemoan the absence of God’s speech, who cry out for personal communication with God Himself. They want cues for their lines. They want explanations and specific directions from the Artist.

And God, as far as they can tell, is ignoring them. They feel neglected – because they weren’t cast as Moses or Elijah or Enoch or Gideon.

Tell me what you want me to do, God. Speak to me (in English, please) and tell me if I should take this job in Des Moines or stay close to my mother.

Then, because their part in this story does not include cosmic voice-overs in English, they enter into an existential crisis. They begin to “doubt.” (p30)

When I read those last few sentences last week, I laughed out loud (which happens a lot with this book) and then almost shuddered hoping that I wasn’t that person.

A simple book is encouraging me and pushing me to delight in more. To delight in creation. To delight in reading God’s Word. To delight in day-to-day life. To delight and jump at chances to step outside the everyday.

Last Monday I heard on the radio that classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein would be in Miami to play Bach’s Goldberg variations. Two Weeks Ago Kate would have said, “Oh, that would be fun. But that costs money. And we’d have to find a babysitter. And…” But Seven Days Ago Kate jumped at it.


2 thoughts on “book slaps and bach

  1. Kate, you’re reading one of my very favorite books!!! I laughed out loud, I cried, I worshiped. As a matter of fact, it’s been too long since I read it. I think I need to be reminded again. BTW, the movie (or bookumentary, as it’s called) is wonderful.
    Give your mom and dad a hug and feel free to come take a DC vacation;)

  2. Ooh I’m intrigued, this book sounds fantastic! I just read the 100 Cupboards series -N.D. Wilson, I am a fan.
    (and I’ll bet the concert was lovely!)

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