finally booked: john donne, a wheelbarrow, wonder, and a lasting love
Which of you, if your grandgirl asks for a book, will give her a Brussels sprout? Even one dipped in chocolate?
Or if she begs to download the ScriptureTyper app for $5.99 on her iPod so she can try to memorize words from the Word, will you give her a broom and tell her to go sweep the floor?
And what Nama heart wouldn’t swoon at two wees wrapped in the wonder of words?
Really, there’s no better gift than a book. At least in my eyes.
Karen Swallow Prior might tell you a wheelbarrow comes in at least a close second, though. Her husband gave her one on Christmas morning, and she liked it. “The best presents, she writes, often come with stories.”
That wheelbarrow had a story behind it. And she ties it all into her chapter about John Donne’s poetry. She’s clever like that.
“Smoke alarms,” I wrote in the margin because the wheelbarrow reminded me of the year my husband tucked smoke alarms under the Christmas tree. True story. Funny story. Still.
“Lasting love,” Karen tells us, “is less like a dinner with candlelight and red roses and more like a wheelbarrow given on Christmas morning. Or like a compass. A compass, of all things, is what John Donne, the seventeenth century priest and poet, used to describe the love he shared with his wife Anne.”
In case you didn’t know, John Donne was one of the metaphysical poets, named because they “wedded matters of eternal and spiritual transcendence to the earthly and temporal.”
Metaphysical poets used a literary device called a conceit to compare unlikely things–like love and a wheelbarrow, or love and a compass, or love and a smoke alarm “in order to draw out an unseen truth by drawing a surprising similarity.”
My son knows me. For years at Christmas and my birthday, I’ve gotten Barnes & Noble gift cards. And my husband only feigns horror when the Amazon man arrives. I’m telling you, my friends, that’s love.
One of our favorite dates is to wander through book stacks–whether in a library where titles lure and we leave laden with layers of colors and textures, a bookstore where the aroma of fresh-perked coffee hangs in the air, or in some dusty out-of-the-way place that houses some classic surprise.
A good book endures time and helps seal the shards of life’s “series of small shatterings.” It lasts much longer than flowers or candy. Not that flowers and candy aren’t nice sometimes, but if you ask for my wish list, you won’t find flowers or candy on it. You will, though, find more books than I can probably read in my lifetime.
I hate to see this study end, but Karen, through Booked, has affirmed my love of books, and she’s helped me fall in fresh love all over again.
A lasting love.
Ann Kroeker is sewing up our study of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me over at The High Calling today. I’m pretty sure you’ll want to head on over there and check out the other links in the comments. Oh, and one of my photos is featured. That kind of makes me all giddy.