Day 18:  Introverted Conversations / by Jeff Tacklind

So, there have been quite a few books written lately on introverts, and I, for one, want to say “thank you” to these brave authors who are navigating new waters.  Thank you for explaining that the need for quiet is not a personal rejection of others.  Thank you for clarifying that an unreturned phone call is not apathy or indifference, but instead the result of an emotionally empty fuel tank.  And thank you for advocating that there is value in letting introverts withdraw.  Because quiet is where we dive down into the deep waters.

Being both an introvert and a pastor has been challenging at times.  Although I’m wired more relational than task, I can only go for so long, socially.  I’m like Cinderella at the ball.  Come midnight, things are going to get awkward. 

Alone time is how I recharge.  Sometimes it’s surfing.  Sometimes journaling.  Usually it involves good coffee.  And, almost always, it involves some reading.  And not just one book.  I usually am reading five.  One from each of my genres…challenging, deep, inspiring, formational, and educational.  Together they form a conversation, a chorus, interacting and debating with each other.  I love it. 

So much of what I learn happens in surround sound.  And various authors and diverse voices adds a profound complexity.  There is a synergy to it.  I hear God’s voice in their harmonizing.

So here’s who I’m reading right now.

I Asked for Wonder, by Abraham Joshua Heschel

Seriously, run, don’t walk, and go buy this.  Overnight it.  I told my friend, Joey, today that if he can’t afford it, he should steal it.  This book is filled with such poetic, mystical brilliance and wisdom from one of the world’s most profound Rabbi’s.  For example,

“…Awareness of God does not come by degrees from timidity to intellectual temerity;

It is not a decision reached at the crossroads of doubt.

It comes when, drifting in the wilderness,

            having gone astray,

we suddenly behold the immutable polar star.

Out of endless anxiety,

Out of denial and despair,

The soul bursts out in speechless crying.”

See what I mean? 

Next…Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

Don’t you love her?!  If not, I’m not sure we can be friends.  I’ve read this book before, but now that I’m seriously giving writing a shot, this book has been just the reassurance and self-deprecation that I need.  Anne is fearless, hilarious, and full of her own brutally honest struggles.  She’s a gift.

We Stood Upon Stars, by Roger W. Thompson

I’ve sort of stalked this guy for years.  He was a former roommate of one of my best friends, Billy.  When he started a surf clothing brand, we all wore his South Jetty shirts.  When he built a skate park, we’d take our youth group kids up to Skate Street in Ventura.  We watched the surf films he made with Walking on Water, and now that he’s writing books, I’ve read them both.  Well, I’m in the middle of his second.  It is a book of stories that follow his travels and journeys throughout California and Montana, with a few other locals thrown in (like Baja).  Roger is a fly fisherman and a surfer.  He writes beautifully.  Every once in a while I find myself thinking, “I wish I’d written that.”

His writing is light and playful, and also poignant and true.  Like this,

“None of this would have happened if we had followed recommendations of how to move on.  This feels more like moving through.  Tunneling through grief to some secret shore that we alone will share.  We plant a flag together.  Slow walks with hands held along the water is a bond for cracks in a marriage.  And like the place where two broken pieces are joined by glue, the crack becomes the strongest point.”

By the way, he’s speaking at my church in May.  I can’t wait for you Lagunans to get to hear his voice.

Centuries of Meditation, by Thomas Traherne

The two endorsements on my copy are by C.S. Lewis and Dorothy Sayers. Lewis says, “I could go on quoting from Centuries of Meditation forever.”  Not bad. 

Traherne was an Anglican country priest and a poet, not credited with his brilliant work until long after his death.  He has been compared to Whitman or Gerard Manley Hopkins.  For instance,

“You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars: and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world, and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs as well as you. Till you can sing and rejoice and delight in God, as misers do in gold, and Kings in sceptres, you never enjoy the world.

Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul, and of course, Surfing, by Laird Hamilton

This one my wife bought for me.  It isn’t necessarily one you’d choose for spiritual depth, but then again, you might be surprised.  I’m totally enjoying it.  It covers the gamut, from eating, to exercise, to life goals and philosophies, and surfing.  Laird is such a phenomenal athlete, but also a powerful advocate for living the abundant life.  I may never have his physique or surf massive Teahupoo, but I’m loving his voice added to the conversation.  He tells Heschel and Traherne, sure, you’re smart, but can you surf?

So what are you reading?  What authors are you conversing with?  Introverted or extroverted, we need these guides and companions to push us, comfort us, and correct us.  I’d love to hear who is inspiring you?