It's pitch dark so that the light coming from my computer is harsh. I am caught in a flood of rain, with it hitting every window. It's the sort of rain we don't see much in California, the sort of rain that makes you feel small and where the sky might fall. In it, creation comes closer. I am suddenly aware of how I use the ground beneath my feet unthinkingly. It becomes something else to consume. I need to feel the sky around me, even in the middle of my couch, in the middle of the suburbs. I loved Esther Emery's memoir, What Falls from the Sky, for just that reason: it reorients you. You'll find yourself savoring sentences, slowing done, re-learning quiet. It puts you not only back in touch with creation, but with God himself. When we turn off the noise, what will we hear? It's the story of the year without the Internet. It's the story of going so fast in your own life that you're headed down a highway and all you crave is speed. It's a story of coming to terms with the ghosts of our pasts, finding hope after infidelity, and learning how to leave space open for silence, and yes, even for God. The book is organized by season and all that falls from the sky: snow, rain, sun, and fog. It's a book that follows the seasons of the year and seasons of the heart. It follows Esther's quiet, slow journey away from noise and performing for others and moves her into the arms of God. Here's a sample of her achingly lovely prose:
On the Internet: "And I know that, yes, in truth, it is isolation that I have come looking for no matter how many times I've said the opposite. In all the tales of heroes, growth begins with a pilgrimage...this is my pilgrimage: out form under the shelter of my screens, to see the sky. On motherhood: "I cried because I couldn't do it. But I also cried because my ego was disappearing. I was losing self in little bits, like fingers, and I knew even then the change was irreversible...You can call that magic if you want, but it is a real and painful magic, neither sudden nor inexplicable." On giving up performance in favor of presence: "Never in my life have I felt such total anonymity as I do right now. Never in my life have I stood so far from the portal that frames the stage. I used to think that it would be like dying. But it isn't like dying. It's much more like having a quiet place to rest."Do you need a quiet place to rest? You might not make the choice, like Esther and her family, to move back to the land. But you can put down your phone. We can learn to think about our choices of consumption -- whether that's of the Internet, people, new stuff, or ethically sourced products -- no matter where we live. Pick it up. It's just $14 for a gorgeous hardback today on Amazon.
As always, I value your presence here.