All the World's a Classroom
Hi, my name is Josephine, and I’m an obsessive bookworm.
About 11 months ago, I wrote about my ridiculous (or maybe not so ridiculous) excursion to Barnes & Nobles in The Reader’s Dilemma, and the ever-so-crucial life decision of choosing between two different reading media. Print or e-book, THAT is the question.
Well, breaking news: I have a resolution. Yes, I’ve picked my winner and loser. Actually, it’s hardly news anymore since I’ve made up my mind toward the beginning of the year, but it makes for a nice blog topic.
Which one’s the winner? Suspenseful pause. PRINT. There is no doubt about it.
Earlier in the year, I read maybe about 3 or 4 books on the Kindle, and since then I haven’t used it much. (And no, I didn’t buy the Kindle version of the Bonhoeffer book). Why is that? Here’s a bit of self-analysis.
To me, reading a book is an experience. It’s like a journey I take with the author or whoever is written in the book, and each book shapes and colors a different journey than the other. I like the fact that each book smells and feels differently in my hands, and that I could finish a journey, put it away, and move on to a new one.
With the Kindle, I get bored quite easily. I would start a new book, but the object I’m handling is identical. The way I’d flip pages is the same, the way the text looks is the same, and its weight in my bag is the same. These different books feel the same, and somehow that’s a turn-off. In fact, those books I read on the Kindle left less impression on me than the print ones, even though they were good. They were less memorable, because the experience was uniform. I even get tired of how the Kindle smells.
And those percentages at the bottom drive me crazy.
I only use the Kindle to read books that I don’t really want to own (via the lending systems through public libraries), or books that I just want to read quickly and that I don’t deem as very important. Most likely, I wouldn’t go back to these books for ideas or quotes, since the highlighting feature is a pain.
But those ones that contain treasures of ideas, I just have to own the print versions. I can get to important sections quickly because I remember where quotes are by the way the book feels (is that weird?). I can flip through pages and remember the thoughts I had when I was reading certain highlighted sections. And once I become attached to a book, I can’t return it… It’s just not possible.
I love books. I can’t help it.
When one knows of an impending crisis, the prudent thing to do is to prepare. The more serious the crisis, the greater and more elaborate the preparation. But if the crisis is real, this preparation time will not go on forever. There will be a time when it’s done, and the only thing that comes next is the crisis itself.
The time in between the end of preparing and the beginning of a crisis can be really eerie. This huge thing that you’ve been waiting for is finally here, and it’s kind of surreal. It’s akin to the feeling you’d have when you sit in an exam room, just before taking an exam. At this time, there is no more studying, no more preparation, because the preparation time is over. You’ve done what you’ve done, and now there’s only the test, and you hope you will pass.
Imagine that when this big thing comes, it finds you unprepared or underprepared. What are you going to do now? Or ever worse, you’ve done nothing, and didn’t even know this thing is coming until it’s there. You start asking yourself, Have I done enough? Will my preparation last me to the end? I’ve done some preparing, but I could’ve done more too. What you have may or may not be enough, and there’s no way to find out until you’re in the crisis already. You just take a deep breath, and hope you make it through.
I’m thinking of my friends back in NJ at the moment. The hurricane is here, and the time to get food, water, batteries, etc. has long passed. They have waited, and the hurricane has arrived. I’m lucky enough that I got out of NJ just in time last Sunday…
But if I had stayed in NJ, if I didn’t have this conference to go to, I would’ve been that person who was underprepared. Or UNprepared. Like, seriously. I didn’t know that the hurricane was coming until a few days before, and had absolutely no time to go to the store and stock up. I would’ve had limited water and food. I would’ve been like a that person who came into an exam room trembling …
I’m obviously not just talking about the hurricane. There is another test for which I absolutely do not want to be underprepared. And the time to prepare is now.
Romans 13: 11-12, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.“
“Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and he gave it to me.” ― Abraham Joshua Heschel
How would you describe this moment: standing on a precipice, you view the extensive terrains made up of lush green meadows, forests, and blue streams. Or at this time of the year, the orange and red leaves that signal winter’s coming. How would you explain what happens when in silence, you watch the evening’s sun sinks into the horizon? Perhaps this word would do for now: Wonder.
Heschel would describe these as moments when one comes face to face with the ineffable, moments when we part with words.
Awesome though they may be, I thought that these moments are like birthdays. They come rarely (only once a year), far in between, and you can’t ask for it. Until I saw that quote above, I never thought that I could ask for wonder.
But when one has the God of the universe as Friend and Father, why couldn’t one ask for wonder? It’s like saying to God, “Impress me.” Why, of course He’ll do it! Talk about a guaranteed answer to prayer.
5. God’s Mysteriousness
God is mysterious and His ways are past finding out. I like how there are many, many things that I don’t know or understand about God. He keeps me curious and amazed, and I can actually ask Him to amaze or make me wonder, and be in for a real ’whoa’ experience.
Romans 11:33 – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!
Job 9:9-11 – Who made [the constellations] the Bear, Orion, and the [loose cluster] Pleiades, and the [vast starry] spaces of the south; Who does great things past finding out, yes, marvelous things without number. Behold, He goes by me, and I see Him not; He passes on also, but I perceive Him not.
This post is my gratitude for the little surprises God had for me everyday this week (which is number 4 on the list). I don’t have to wait until I get to a mountaintop or the beaches in Bali to bottle up wonder and store it in memories. I can have a dose everyday, for to wonder is to worship. And far more incredible than to wonder at the grandeur of His creation, is to wonder at God Himself.
Ask for wonder. You’re in for a real treat.