Life, as I’m sure you well know, doesn’t necessarily follow the course we expect it to. Often as not, there’s a hairpin curve just out of sight ahead, or a bridge washed out, or rockslide debris across the road.
It won’t surprise you to hear that books are my compass for navigating the rough spots and detours. But I might not have even found the compass on my own. Of course, there have been family members and teachers and librarians who have encouraged my reading through the years, but today I’m thinking, with much gratitude, about certain people I know personally who have pointed me to particular writers who are now touchstones in my life.
My mother accidentally started me on George MacDonald when The Baronet’s Song (Sir Gibbie) and The Shepherd’s Castle (Donal Grant) arrived at our house in a book club shipment. She also, most inadvertently, gave me my first taste of J.R.R. Tolkien, via a children’s magazine that featured Bilbo and Gollum’s riddle game.
It was my father who brought Christina Rossetti to me – not at all on purpose, but he bought the literature textbook in which I met her. “Remember” was the first poem that touched that deep place in my soul.
Connie Hagler is responsible, though she doesn’t know it, for leading me to Henri Nouwen. She read a few of his words once in a small group I attended, and I had to find more.
Before he even knew me, Andrew Lazo pointed me to Frederick Buechner by way of a quote in the header of his blog: “Words were the lines that moored him to the world.” Andrew also brought Mary Oliver into my life, and introduced me – live and in person! – to Malcolm Guite.
These are gifts that can only be repaid, or paid forward, in kind, which is no small part of what I try to do here at Books by Becka and at www.beckasbookreview.wordpress.com. One of my greatest joys is to recommend a book to someone, a book that I think will inspire or comfort them in some way, and have them tell me later what it meant to them.
To some degree or another, my parents and Connie and Andrew, and my grandmothers and those teachers and librarians, as well as the writers they have blessed me with, are a part of what I do and who I am every day, and are always present to help me find a way through difficulties and set my course.