I am about ten pages from the end of three books right now. I want to finish each of them, but it seems like it’s taking me forever. I sit down to read a few pages of Dallas Willard’s Hearing God, and someone comes in the room to chat. As part of my writing practice, I take out Laraine Herring’s Writing Warrior find so much in three pages that I’m overflowing with words before I can finish the book. In one Kathleen Norris poem, I uncover images to lay in my mind as bedding for thought that I may never finish Journey.

The part of me that lives to finish wants to just push through these last few pages so that I can say I’m done and move onto the next thing. I want to be able to take these books – all three of them covered in the colors of the sea: greens, turquoise, and blue – and add them to my shelves of reds and yellows, put them away to be done and decoration.

In these final pages, though, I find a richness as deep as canyons. Amongst Willard’s lessons about listening to words and to inklings and to circumstances, I know that what I may need could be in the sentences that come from the person in the room. Laraine’s advice keeps me honest and keeps me focused on my work; to move too quickly through that is to disrespect my vocation. Norris’ meditations on faith and love and the glorious pain and beauty that are life ground me into something so solid at the center of myself that breezing past it feels like driving through the Rockies as quickly as possible.

So I slow down. I wend my way through these final pages like I’m driving a country road lined with old barns. I loop around and come back by to see again. I meander (isn’t that a great word?) and annoy all the other books lined up behind these. I ease my way through the pages and find much to celebrate there. Promises and truth and direction and, above all, grace.

Old Barn“Old Barn and Country Road Near the Thames” by William Sumits