I don’t know about you, but this past week was something else. Not in a particular good way, it was literally just something else. This feeling could be compared to going over the big hill on a roller coaster, knowing the “easy part” is behind you, and knowing that if you try to do anything about stopping yourself, it’ll be pointless. In this circumstance, you will find it “easiest” to just sit tight and close your eyes.
While somewhat extreme, I find myself in a form of the prior illustration. I’m on the downhill into spring break, but I’m doing tons of extra work this week because I’m leaving on an eight day mission trip the week right before spring break. It’s kickin’ my butt on the front end of the trip, but I know I will be so grateful for a week after to recalibrate my body clock.
In the midst of all of this planning and preparation, I have found myself stumbling around, looking for some sort of creative outlet. Often when I get in high stress seasons, I tend to lose my mind a little, and to prevent that, I need a project to work on or a book to fully immerse myself in.
I’ve noticed in the past couple years that it’s been harder and harder for me to find a book where I pick it up and completely lose myself. Maybe that’s a commentary on my decreasing attention span or just my time management, but either way it’s true. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times that I’ve stopped reading something because I just could get invested enough for me to find the book worthy of my time. As a writer, however, that hurts my heart, especially knowing just how much work it takes to create something as “simple” as a paperback.
Truly, I think there are only a small number of books that I really lost myself in as of recently. If it says anything about my literary life, or just life in general, I currently can’t think of any, but I can’t be blamed because last week was long and strenuous. ;D
However, that changed yesterday.
I have long admired the phenomenal songwriter and brilliant author Andrew Peterson. He wrote one of my favorite series, The Wingfeather Saga. He once described it as “a mix of the whimsy of The Princess Bride and the adventure of The Lord of the Rings,” and honestly, who wouldn’t want that? I got to experience that saga in my early middle school years, and I was able to feel feelings that I didn’t know how to put a name to.
I mean, just look at this quote from the last book of the series, The Warden and The Wolf King.
“That doesn’t mean it isn’t true. The Shining Isle exists as surely as the floor you’re standing on. It may be hard to believe, but it’s real, I tell you. Sometimes in the middle of the night, the sun can seem like it was only ever a dream. We need something to remind us that it still exists, even if we can’t see it. We need something beautiful hanging in the dark sky to remind us there is such a thing as daylight. Sometimes, Queen Sara”—Armulyn strummed his whistleharp— “music is the moon.”The Warden and The Wolf King, Andrew Peterson
*gets chills from reading such EXQUISITE WRITING*
All that to say, Andrew Peterson is in my top ten authors. So when I found out he was writing a book on songwriting/writing in general/the arts and how it connects to our spiritual reality and how to create stuff with meaning, I about flipped. I said, “yes please, I would like two of them immediately.”
Unfortunately, it was sometime this summer and pre-order starting in October, so I had a while to wait. Not a problem, because I promptly forgot about it entirely. Like one does…
…until I got it for Christmas. Oh, the joy!! I now had SIX books written by Andrew Peterson in the house! Could my life get any better??
I did a happy dance, and then put it on a shelf, forgetting the poor book once again.
You know when you have a book/movie/album that’s been sitting on your list for so long that you have physically begun to feel pained when you look at it? This was the point we were reaching with Adorning the Dark. It was so sad, folks.
*melodramatic 40s radio announcer voice* the book was starting to wonder if she would ever come back for it…. it had been months…. it was starting to collect dust……. it could feel its insides falling apart…
I don’t know if this is just a me thing, but does anyone else get the thing where you know something is going to be really good and because of that, you are scared to move forward to it? Oh, this happens to me CONSTANTLY. Whether it be something as simple as the untouched box of green tea Pocky in my book box that I’ve been saving or something as big as not jumping into an experience I know that I’m supposed to jump into, this idea trips me up all the time.
This was how it was with Adorning the Dark.
I was saving it for a rainy day. I knew I’d love it, I knew that it’d change me, but still I saved it.
I had finished all of my homework and responsibilities outside of school, heck I’d even finished my February bullet journal spread (don’t judge me XD). I had nothing else to do. To be honest, I’d had some insecurities regarding my talent as an artist (meaning The Arts, capital letters) flare up yesterday which was a little out of the ordinary. I had had a headache off and on, so I didn’t want to be watching a movie or anything.
Then it just flew into my ear, the simple idea that “hey, remember how you’ve been wanting to read?” Before I knew it, I was curled up in my favorite corner of the couch (we all have one of those let’s be honest) and reading the prologue.
I won’t spoil anything for you, but it’s rare that I find a book, aside from the Bible, that jumps off the pages and speaks directly to things in my life. A book that’s relatable, sure, or even perfectly crafted and “I’d frame that quote” type of beautiful. But this, this was utter poetry.
Every single sentence was something I had lived, yet I hadn’t lived it. It felt like someone knew me. There was a brilliance and depth to each word. Reading it made my heart yearn for a way of putting words together as eloquently as he did. Each thought had been drizzled with honey and was perfectly executed into existence, not a moment before it needed to be. To top it all off, he sprinkled a heavy dose of humor and sarcastic wit. It made the sweetness speckle, leaving a balanced flavor of someone who was familiar with themselves and their Father.
I am an emotional person. You guys probably know this by now. But this made me feel something that I hadn’t felt in a long time. How he did it? Not sure.
It was like being slowly submerged in the ocean, you could see all of it’s majesty and power and then suddenly before you knew it, you were already neck deep but you didn’t care. The waves were free to lap about you because there was no danger.
I started forty five minutes before dinner, and I had already had my heart ripped out and was six chapters in when I had to stop. I kept going after dinner, so now I’m a little more than halfway done, but…
My favorite thing he’s talked about so far was when he was a freshman, he got a motorbike and rode it around the town. He didn’t like being around people a lot; perfectly content to be alone with himself and his thoughts. (if that ain’t me) He found a field (cornfield? i don’t remember exactly) and it was just him, the Lord, and the sunset. He had paper so he was writing down every color as it happened, describing the clouds and talking aloud to God. Finally he started watching the first stars come out, and he knew he should head home.
There’s just something so wonderful about the imagery he created. Mr. Peterson has always been someone who I look up to artistically, but after reading this and having my heart ripped out and captivated, and then having him wrap it up and sing over it; my heart just doesn’t know what to do. He explains how he listens and waits on the Holy Spirit to move him in songwriting, and all I can say is “Lord give me faith like that.”
Because my life is pretty much all feelings and music, these are some songs that I can rightly compare to the feelings this book has given me thus far.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the words or the time to describe accurately how this book has made me feel, so those songs will have to finish my feelings for me. I wholeheartedly recommend this book if you are even remotely interested in the art of The Arts. 🙂 This book has put a name to things I didn’t know had names.
So, all I can leave you with now is parting words from Andrew Peterson himself.
“He means to make his subjects merciful and wise; sorrow and struggle bringeth both. We will, he tells me, grow by grieving, live by dying, love by losing. The heart itself is the field of battle and the garden green.”The Monster in the Hollows, Andrew Peterson
Now go forth, mis amigos and amigas, and smile. Your day is just beginning. Make the best of it. Don’t procrastinate. Work hard. Make me proud. 🙂
Love you all,