Favorite Books for Spring

PicMonkey Collage

Springtime brings so much with it from a bounce in your step to a breeze in your hair to a song in your heart. There’s a feeling that can only be described as spring, or perhaps the longing for a true spring on sunny February days before the cold has completely gone like we are having now. What can we do when we want spring so badly but we can’t have it quite yet?

We read, of course! If you’re itching for the perfect book to read this spring, a book that will sing of the season as you do, try the ones below.

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The Iridescence of Birds: A Picture Book about Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan – This picture book about Matise is full of delicate springtime colors that make me want to sing like the birds. The entire book is only two sentences long, but it is lovely in its simplicity and delightful in its message. Parents and educators will also appreciate the educational component as the book explores the life and works of Matisse in the most poetic way imaginable.

1328751On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole – I’m not sure this book is too well known, but I think it should be someone’s life goal to change that. This picture book follows a young girl who grows tired of the grassy green lawn at her house that looks just like the grassy green lawns of all her neighbors. Nothing much happens in her lawn, and it isn’t very interesting. All that changes when she convinces her father to leave part of the yard to grown the next time he mows. From there she decides to plant a tree and even put in a pond. The family’s boring old yard quickly becomes a beautiful park, as well as the envy of all the neighbors – who begin to plant trees of their own. Again, the educational element of this book makes it a great pair for learning about ecosystems or permaculture.

140212The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis – Nevermind the snowfall on the cover, this is my number one book for springtime. Why? “Wrong will be right when Aslan comes in sight. At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more. When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death. When he shakes his mane, spring shall come again.”

 

 

272752Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman – I think I have mentioned this book on the blog before, but I just love it so much! This tiny book tells the big story of how a community garden is begun and cultivated in a vacant city lot. Each chapter follows a different character and the book truly shows the value of our connection with the earth and with each other.

 

 

402032The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett – A list of springtime books would be incomplete without this classic. I love my copy of Mary Lenox’s story like an old friend, as I remember the wonder with which I read it for the first time. That first desire for a bit of earth in the spring which is the rain falling on the sunshine is etched in the memory of many children, for in no season more than spring are we aware of the Magic all around us. This beloved book tells the story of the awakening earth and the awakening heart.

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I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – This book makes my spirits soar in the same way the spring does, which means I’ve probably talked about this one on the blog before, too. Everyone should read this charming story, but especially writers. To read Cassandra’s diary is to meet a friend and have long, late night conversations with her, finding that you are alike in all of your fears and aspirations.

 

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Sinful Simon or Peter, Redeemed

namaste

The practice of yoga tends to be a subject of some controversy among evangelicals due to it’s roots in eastern religion. When I took a class at a Baptist college on yoga (as exercise), we exclusively learned the poses involved. There was no chanting or mumbo jumbo, no meditation. The only possible thing that could be linked to the history of yoga was the word namaste. We ended each class by placing our palms together and nodding our heads to the instructor, who did the same to us, and we said namaste to each other.

According to our instructor, we were simply thanking her for the class, and she was thanking us for our participation. This is an accepted meaning for the term among those who practice yoga as an exercise or sport, but the translation of the Sanskrit word namaste into English is “the divine in me honors the divine in you.”

Conservative evangelicals often shy away even from this word, because of it’s meaning. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder – why don’t we adopt this greeting and use it in our churches?

C S Lewis, in his essay The Weight of Glory, famously pointed out that everyone we meet is someone who will be alive forever.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – there are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

– C S Lewis, The Weight of Glory

How often do we really think like this? It is certainly easy to forget that we are eternal ourselves, and much easier when it comes to those who irritate or harm us in some way. Perhaps if we kept a greeting with connotations of “my eternal self honors your eternal self” or, specifically among Christian communities, “my sanctified self honors your sanctified self” we could better remember that while we are still sinners, the same Christ saved us all, and we will be together with him – and each other – for eternity.

In a recent worship service, a preacher encouraged the congregation to recognize this in the example of Simon Peter. Jesus gave Simon, the sinner, a new name when he became a follower. That name was Peter, the Rock on which Christ built his church. This same person denied Christ three times on the eve of the crucifixion. Jesus, because he has covered this, chose to see Peter and love him, rather than to see Simon and punish the sin. The preacher encouraged us to do this ourselves, in conflict with others, to see the new person Christ has cleansed rather than the old person who was lost.

This is difficult to do even if we remember. But how often are we reminded, or do we remind ourselves? Perhaps it should be a little more often.

Namaste.