Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Random Thoughts

The other day I looked up a book in my public library's online catalog--The Joy of the Snow by Elizabeth Goudge. It's her autobiography, and frankly I didn't expect the library would have it, but I thought I should check before I bought a copy on Amazon.com the minute Lent was over.

Much to my surprise, the library had a copy. But what was downright shocking is the fact someone had it checked out!

Who is this person who finds Elizabeth Goudge as compelling as I do? Is it the same person who requested The Scent of Water when I was halfway through with it, forcing me to track down a copy to buy? Are there just two of us scrapping after Goudge's books, or is there an entire posse?

If only the library had a way to let you contact the people who have been reading the books you've been reading--or want to read--especially if they're books that you assume no one else is reading or has ever heard of (heck, I'd never heard of EG until Jody mentioned her earlier this year over at Gumbo Lily).

I would love know who my fellow Goudgians are--I imagine them as elderly Episcopalian women, much like my own mother, who have downy soft cheeks and smell of Chanel No. 5. But maybe they're like me, middle-aged women who wandered back into church in mid-life and swoon over novels that are a heady mix of C.S. Lewis and Rosemary Pilcher. Or they might be anglophile teenagers who've already worked their ways through Jane Austen and E.M. Forster. Whoever they are, I want to know them!

I'm not sure how this library program would work. Maybe when you checked out your books--and nowadays, we check them out on the library's computers, no need to have contact with an actual human being--you could put an X in a box that said you were willing to let your email address be released to anyone who had also checked out any of the same books in the last six months.

I know, I know, it's probably unfeasible, and you'd probably get emails from creepy people who had also just happened to have checked out Your Money or Your Life or Yoga for Dummies instead of Karl Barth's Apologetics or The Collected Poems of W.H. Auden.

But it's killing me to know there's someone out there who's reading The Joy of the Snow and I have no idea who. I want to know!


We went to a beautiful Easter service on Sunday. We attend a university chapel, which means we get to hear from an ever-changing roster of hot shot preachers--N.T. Wright, Barbara Brown Taylor, Walter Brueggemann, Shane Claiborne, just to name a few who've come through in the last year--as well as our own beloved Dean of the Chapel, who is from England and awfully cute for a balding, middle-aged man.

This was our first Easter at the chapel, and it was grand--and really, really crowded. We decided afterwards that perhaps next year we'll try the 9 a.m. service instead of the 11 a.m. My mother, ever-practical, suggested we just go to the vigil the night before. We are a family who can do a midnight service, no problem. Or stay up all night and go to the sunrise service bleary-eyed and cranky.

As the temperatures outside rose to the high 80s, the temperatures inside were quite steamy as well. The chapel--"chapel" is a misnomer; it's a Gothic cathedral--holds 1,800 people, and we had that and then some. The typical 11 a.m. service hosts a mix of students and people from around the community, but Sunday's service was student-heavy, and most of them were dressed for a big cocktail party. It was fun watching the Man--who gallantly gave his seat to an elderly woman--having to avert his eyes through the entire service. A serious amount of naked flesh, I'm just sayin'.

And yet, it was lovely to see everyone, nice to see the kids, the old folks, the families, all of us nearly prostrate with heat stroke, most of us coughing and sniffing with spring allergies and colds. There were trumpets and bells and lots of loud singing. I let the boys take off their jackets and ties and unbutton their top buttons. I mean, everyone else was naked, why not them?

As we all drained from the church, it was amazing to see how many people automatically took out their iPhones to check to see if Jesus had texted them during the service. Touching, really.


I have good news about our friend David, who I wrote about again in my last post. His doctors opted for a serious round of antibiotics, which did the trick. He's home, done with chemo, and will go in next month for a bone marrow transplant. Thanks for your prayers, positive energy, white light, white heat. I promise you that David appreciates them.


wayside wanderer said...

Oh, Frances, I love your humor. Nothing worse than being too warm in church. Our Good Friday service was a little toasty, but it was because we have a new guy in charge of building stuff and he forgets to go early and turn on the a/c. Worship guides were being rapidly fanned back in forth.

Gumbo Lily said...

I love how you tell a story, Frances. I can see the "movie in my mind," as my kids always called it, of the entire Easter service (minus the sermon).

I have to tell you that my daughter (23) loves to read EG and she is borrowing what books I have by her. She is also a Jane Austen fan and a Gene Stratton-Porter lover. I haven't read the autobiography, but I'll bet it is wonderful. I wonder if she had a gloriously beautiful life or if she just had a good imagination?


GretchenJoanna said...

I have The Joy of the Snow and will lend it if you like, Frances. Do you think it's going to take a long time to get the library copy?
I forget what you have read by her already...her memoirs were fascinating to me, especially the chapter on the occult or psychic experiences and opinions she had. It made me curious about that period of history in England, and after I finished the book I did read up on it a bit...
Her life was not exciting, but perhaps somewhat like Emily Dickinson she seemed to see heaven and God's workings everywhere -- does it seem so? I haven't read as much as intend to of E.G., and not much of E.D. either, so I should blush at rambling on like this.

Tracy said...

Meanwhile, our sunrise service was very heavy on the elderly, light on children and corresponding parents.

But I love the fact that it's informal, held next to a lake and the bird-life compete with us for who can make the most noise when singing.

Your weather, by the way, is very similar to ours as we begin to diverge again in opposite directions. Beautiful sunny days with a little warmth left yet, on our way to cold, dull, wintery days.

Susan said...

Half naked college girls at Easter service. There's a little something for everyone at Easter. I prefer chocolate bunnies wrapped in brightly colored foil, but to each his own.

Pom Pom said...

I'm so glad David is doing better!
Why didn't you take a picture of the cubs wearing those jackets? I want to see!
I am reading The Scent of Water as I drop off to sleep at night, but I am considering reading it aloud to myself, using my best English accent. Yes, yes you must hunker down with a copy of The Wind in the Willows again. I'd really like to swap lines with someone! (o:
Our library is so darn big, but I have not yet checked for EG. I will go to the site now and see and then I can wonder about who likes her, too.

victoria said...

Interesting. There must be a way to develop a library friend-matchmaking service the adds up all the data about which books you borrow and matches you up with potential friends....
Clothing (or lack of) in church on very hot days can be quite an issue.

Amanda said...

Oh, your sarcasm is enjoyable! Especially regarding iPhones. who, indeed, was texting them on Easter Sunday? Regarding the lack of clothing, I've noticed that college girls don't realize that when they wear strapless tops to church, when sitting in the chairs at our church it appears from the back that they have no top at all. I do pity the men.

Sandy H said...

What, Jesus doesn't text you?

I just ordered The Joy of Snow and The Scent of Water from our library system based on your recommendations. Dang. Neither is available on Kindle so I'll actually have to lug a real-live book around. I'm not sure I remember how to do that.

Angela said...

why not tuck a very small slip of paper inside the book with a message for the phantom EG reader?

Glad Easter was so good despite semiclad worshippers[imagine how hard it is for Pastors who have to look out on a sea of faces and ...err... exposed flesh, as they are trying to preach!]

Best news of all is of David's improvement. Continuing to pray

Thanks for comments on my blog recently
blessings xx

The dB family said...

You literally made me laugh out loud. I can picture the church and the (almost) naked attendees in my mind. I'm trying to avert my eyes ;o).

I'm glad to read that David is doing well.

Those books by EG sound like great reads. I'll have to see if my library has any.