This month began in the beauty of Burundi, took us through the heat and life of Uganda, and brought us home to Luxembourg. It’s been a month of intense beauty and a month of painful brokenness. And isn’t that just the way of the world? I’ve given up trying to categorise or theologise (making up a word…) it all in my head, but just hold it all in open hands and breath in my little mantra over and over: Every little thing is going to be alright.
And so this month I’ve been…
I finished An Altar in the World and I think I can safely say this is one of those books I will be naming in lists of books that changed my life. I need to start all over again. I may well write about it here. It filled me up and was like the most delicious glass of water to a thirsty soul. Too much?! Perhaps, but I loved it.
The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. I read this for our newly-formed book club and it was a fun read. The author has tied in this man’s life to many of the 20th centuries most pivotal moments (a little like the film Forrest Gump) and the way she writes addresses many of the moral issues surrounding those events, but in a way that you hardly notice it’s happening. This wasn’t a favourite read, but it was a fun one. And any excuse to drink wine with some of my favourite ladies is a good thing.
Eat Pray Love. I’m about half way through this famous book. I’ve almost read it so many times this last couple of years. But then they made it into a movie with Julia Roberts and for some reason, that kind of put me off, even though I love Julia Roberts. But I’m so glad I started, because I am LOVING this book. I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s easy style of writing, her humour and her vulnerability sitting side by side of the page. And I actually have been finding it a fascinating partner read to An Altar in the World, because both books – in very different ways – are dealing with to a greater or lesser extent with the topic of finding the divine in our days and our lives.
And finally, I picked up Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Because, well, I’m curious! I’m only a chapter in but it’s quite wild and wonderful so far (in an oh-so-English way).
I discovered Daughters of Davis, and Mallie this month. The first is a pair of sisters from the UK singing folk/soul. Mallie is also a young British singer with a beautiful soulful voice. There’s so much strong talent coming out of the UK these days – makes me proud to be British!
Not much this month. I haven’t been to the cinema or seen any new films. On the plane on the way home from Uganda, Rasmus watched an old episode of Dharma and Greg and bought the whole series when he got home. I’d never seen this sitcom before, but it’s been good light-hearted fun to watch on evenings where we’re too tired to talk. Also, I want to be Dharma just a little bit.
Aside from the truck-loads of avocado (yum!) and matoke (less yum) that we ate in Burundi and Uganda, I did make Kathleen’s date and nut energy bars last week and they are delicious! I have a real sweet tooth, which makes me frequently crave something sweet at the end of a meal. But as much as I adore cake and cookies, I know it’s not the healthiest option. These I cut mine into one inch squares and let myself only eat one at a time. And it works! They’re sweet and tasty, and satisfy that sweet craving in a healthy way.
Last week, when the weather was unbelievably warm (for Luxembourg), we headed out after work with some colleagues of Rasmus and their families to a magical place they knew of about fifty minutes north of the city. Here, the river bends into wide, slow meanders, and you can make your way down the steep forested path to the river bank for picnics and a quick swim in the river if you need cooling off. It was a very special spot, and not at all busy this weekday night.
in the garden.
Following my green fingered success last summer, I’m trying again to grow some of our own food. Now, in case you haven’t realised, we live in a third floor flat with no garden, just a long thin south-facing balcony. But apparently my plants are not fussy. We’re growing cherry tomatoes, basil and chillies again, and this year I’m also attempting radishes and green beans.
I spent our first Saturday back in Luxembourg with my hands satisfyingly deep in soil, planting my baby plants out and saying not a few prayers that they would grow good and strong. Prayers that may have been justified when the following three days saw the biggest, most violent summer thunderstorms I have seen in years. I worried about my babies with every gust of wind, but they seem to be doing just fine.
I started using bloglovin this month and I really like it. I didn’t actually use any reader before, relying on twitter and facebook to remind me when my favourite blogs had new posts up. But that meant I was easily distracted throughout the day, when I saw new notifications come through. Having them all here, means that I am better at confining my blog reading to certain times in the day, and can concentrate on my own work and writing the rest of the day, which I like.
These are some of the blog posts that have inspired me, challenged me, or kept me thinking this month:
The Perfect Shade of Greige, by Jamie the Very Worst Missionary. “It’s a rookie mistake, and I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it, but I think I have managed to translate my cross-cultural experience into something holier and more important than my life in the U.S…” (This was helpful to read a week after returning from our trip)
Dear Mandela, the Only Way I Know to Walk Now is Long and Free, by Idelette. This is a take-your-breath-away, vulnerable, hope-filled story of the healing that an Afrikaner found in her friendships with other South Africans. “I was born privileged, but not free. My life is an ache for a large, long freedom and this is the work and the walk I am committed to now, limping, grateful and often teary as I may be.”
It doesn’t need to be counted, and neither do you, by Antonia. “In the life of love, the self is not obliterated, it is both celebrated and protected, paradoxically participating in radical selflessness, and always submitting, giving more.” Reading this was just a huge release of tension that I didn’t know I was holding onto. Antonia preaches a gentler way, and I want it.
In which (love looks like) spinning our own yard, by Sarah Bessey. Well gosh if I don’t love everything that Miss Bessey writes, and I’m impatiently waiting on the release date of her new book (and planning a read-a-long with a friend here in Luxembourg). But I love when she writes about her marriage. The way she makes the little moments and the ordinary days and the gold-tinged memories come alive. “Let’s tell them about the vast middle part of love, too, this part right now, the part that doesn’t show up in movies and love songs, the part where my hips have widened and your temples are greying, and some dreams are languishing, and we’ve become better acquainted with the fruit of faithfulness and gentleness.”
Thinking about Robbers, by D.L.Mayfield. “I know we are all tired of doomsday prophets preaching to us about global warming, sex trafficking, child laborers, human rights abuses, etc. Even the good samaritans get tired of the dire warnings, after a while. So what makes a lifestyle choice stick? After watching and observing and hanging out with a bunch of cool people who are working through all of these sorts of questions, I have come to this conclusion: I think it must be joy.” (This was a sit-up-straighter in my chair moment this week).
So that’s about it. What have you been into and up to this month? As always (except last month when I was in Uganda with her and forgot) I’m linking up with the marvellous Leigh Kramer. Reading the other end-of-the-month posts is always a fantastic way to make your to-read, to-listen-to and to-watch lists even longer!