Monday, January 28, 2008

Stimulating the Adult Brain...

Sometimes (usually just prior to or post-preschool storytime) my coworkers make a joke about my energy level ("Do you ever slow down??") or my love of children's literature and how that's all I ever read. Well, the truth of it is, I love children's literature, so that's not that much of a problem for me. There are a lot of brilliant authors out there who write for a slightly younger audience, and are therefore ignored by the grownups with more money than whatever fits in a piggybank. I can give you a list of quality books written for children or young adults, but that are loved by people of any age.

That said, I read a recent article in School Library Journal. The suggestions didn't necessarily appeal to me personally, but the gist of the article was a good reminder... it's okay for me to put aside the kiddie lit (that I love) for a little adult brain stimulation now and then! And what do you know, within a few days, I stumbled across a book for... *gasp*... grownups that I really wanted to read.

It's called The Irresistable Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne. I'm only a few chapters in, but it feels really good to read something that isn't a children's book! And it's certainly thought-provoking. This guy, a cofounder of The Simple Way in Philadelphia, a community of Believers living their faith in a practical "being the hands and feet of Jesus" kind of way, shares his journey. Stories like this make me want to get out there and DO something. But I've learned that my story doesn't have to mirror what I read in a book, fictional or true. Claiborne shares his story as a fellow traveler on a faith journey to discovering more about God and to living out the kingdom here on earth. He even states at one point his belief (and I agree) that "fewer things have more transformative power than people and stories".

So I guess that, even though I'm reading a "grown up book", I can't get away from the idea of story. Our stories, our life experiences, are given to us by God and they're given to us to share and to learn from. Just like stories in books... the good ones anyway, whether true or not, are opportunities for us to make connections and learn. We each have different stories; mine doesn't have to look like yours. And you don't have to get the same thing out of hearing another person's story as everyone else who hears it. So whether you like children's books or not, whether you like to read or not, just take a minute and think about story... not limiting it to something in print bound between paper or leather. Think about it as what challenges you, uncovers some truth, helps you grow, helps you connect in some way to the world in general or the people around you. Story is awesome. So go have coffee with a friend and share what's going on in your lives, take some time to yourself to think through your own story, or *gasp* pick up a good book (I'd be happy to give recommendations! ;) Seriously.) and get lost in story.

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