I haven’t done everything, not even a little of everything.  I have never worked in a restaurant, nor at a gas station.  I haven’t been a lumberjack.  I have worked in a library, as a proofreader, for a newspaper, and at all sorts of desk jobs.

I don’t remember if it was when I was consulting for a printing company or when I was working for the DP/printing shop, but somewhere along the way I learned about paper.  Paper is termed grain long if the wood fibers match up with the long direction of the paper.  Accordingly, grain short is if they go across the long direction of the paper.  This matters for printers because folding along the grain gives you a nice crisp fold.  Folding against the grain gives you a bouncier, fatter fold.  In general, you want to fold along the grain, making a nice thin book/pamphlet/whatever that tends to keep the fold, instead of something that fights the fold.

And then there’s Bread for the Journey, my devotional reading for 2010.  There are daily readings, so it’s in the range of 200 physical pages.  It must be made out of recycled paper, though, because there is no directional stiffness to the pages.  They bend along the axis of the spine.  They bend across that axis.  This book is almost printed on spaghetti.  The paper is not cheap – it’s a reasonable thickness, unlike some of those pocket Bibles where you can read both sides of a page at one time.  But every night when I pick it up to read it, I have to brace it like a thin paper plate so I don’t lose my bookmark.

But once I have the physical part sorted out, I can get into the good stuff.  And it’s in there.  Nouwen does not include scripture as much as I would expect.  He still writes from a Christian perspective.  There are some Nazarenes who don’t like him.  Good for them.  I don’t have to like everything he says, or everything my minister says.  It’s the Bible, God’s holy word, that is inspired, perfect, necessary, and imperishable.  All other writing (including this blog) is by definition imperfect.  Doesn’t make it useless.

Sometimes it’s a sentence that grabs me.  Sometimes I get inspiration from a paragraph, or the whole day’s entry.  They all cause me to think, to be holier and healthier (inside).  In short, they bring me closer to God and His desire for me.  And that’s good.

Feb 5: God’s love is from eternity to eternity and is not bound to any time-related events or circumstances.  Does that mean that God does not care what we do or say?  No, because God’s love wouldn’t be real if God didn’t care.  To love without condition does not mean to love without concern.

Feb 27: Thus, discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God.

March 2: God wants to breathe in us, so that all we say, think, and do is completely inspired by God.

March 17: When we dismiss people out of hand because of their apparent woundedness, we stunt their lives by ignoring their gifts, which are often buried in their wounds.

January 16: The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future.  The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands.

And then all of January 10: One of the greatest dangers in the spiritual life is self-rejection.  When we say “If people really knew me, they wouldn’t love me”, we choose the road toward darkness.  Often we are made to believe that self-deprecation is a virtue, called humility.  But humility is in reality the opposite of self-deprecation.  It is the grateful recognition that we are precious in God’s eyes and that all we are is pure gift.  To grow beyond self-rejection we must have the courage to listen to the voice calling us God’s beloved sons and daughters, and the determination to always live our lives according to this truth.

Amen, and amen.

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