Thursday, August 25, 2011

Developing a passion

It had been several years since I read Frederick Buechner, the novelist, essayist, minister and theologian. And then I was in a bookstore, and saw The Longing for Home. Since it was published in 1996, and I’m looking at an unused copy in 2011, I’m not sure what it was doing on the shelf, except, perhaps, waiting for me.

I didn’t read it right away, so it had to wait a bit more. And then, earlier this week I pulled it from my bookshelf and started reading.

It’s part memoir, part essay collection, part poetry (I didn’t know he wrote poetry) and part speculation. He begins talking about houses, for it is often houses that we think of when someone asks about home. And he says that the older he gets (he just turned 85 last month, so this was written when he was 70), the more he thinks about home, the more he thinks about the people who inhabited his childhood, and the more defined his memories of childhood become.

He understands what’s happening, of course. The older one gets, the more one considers eternal things, and that the home of our childhood (assuming it was happy) and the memories associated with it (assuming they were good) become a representation of our eternal home, and that is what we are truly longing for.

Not too long ago, my wife asked me if I found myself thinking more about my hometown of New Orleans, and, surprised since I hadn’t said anything about it, I nodded. “”I could tell,” she said.

The New Orleans I grew up in is quite a bit different from what the typical tourist sees. I lived in a suburb, and it looked as American as any place else. There were stretches of woods with paths well worn by the neighborhood kids. And kids ruled – this was the era when the Baby Boom became obvious; Halloween in my neighborhood went on for hours, with hundreds and hundreds of children running door to door.

I’m thinking more about home, and my childhood, and my parents, especially my father.

In addition to this thinking about home, I’m developing an interest, a growing interest, in literature, the literature I was introduced to in high school and college. The poetry I’ve been reading is part of this interest. Sitting on the shelf above my computer as I type this are several books waiting to be read:  The Selected Poems of Robert Penn Warren, The Poetry of Robert Frost, A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman, Poems and Prose of Gerard Manley Hopkins, a novel by Carlos Fuentes and two by Dickens – all waiting to be read.

And lately, I’ve been reading the Book of Common Prayer, a reprint of the 1928 edition.

And I know what I’m doing, and I know what this interest is, and what I’m developing a passion for.
And it’s language and literature and the beauty of it all when it’s beautiful and the ugliness when it’s not.


Over at Faith Barista today, Bonnie Gray is hosting a blog carnival on a passion or interest you want to go. Please visit to see the other posts that are linked.

17 comments:

JofIndia said...

I think as we grow older, passions may appear quieter, whilst becoming both deeper and and more focussed..

The Wild Optimist said...

Dear Glynn,

I could so relate to your post today- thank you for that unknowing gift! Enjoy reveling in those rich words!

Lisa notes... said...

This is a beautiful passion, Glynn. I have a passion for words too. I guess that’s one reason blogging is such a pull for us. I hope you’ll continue pursuing your passion because it blesses all of us.

Louise Gallagher said...

YES! As Lisa wrote -- your passion blesses us all.

Thanks for sharing it with such beautiful words.

Cameron Lawrence said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron Lawrence said...

I don't know what it says about me that, as a young man, home and place have been a constant preoccupation. And now as I watch my daughter grow, my own childhood comes to the fore, surprising me in quiet, mundane moments with what I haven't recalled in years. What a profound thought: to think of childhood as a sign from the home beyond this life--a home that even now beckons us to come from the distant country. Thanks, Glynn. A stirring post.

Maureen said...

It's been clear to me for a long time that home for you is New Orleans. It tugs on you, and that comes across in your writing, which betrays your love for that place.

A Simple Country Girl said...

I just keep going back to your final sentence... it is that, isn't it? Language, literature, beauty and ugly.

Blessings.

S. Etole said...

I'm so thankful that you share that passion with us through your well-crafted words.

Sandra Heska King said...

Me, too. What they said!

Jennifer said...

The truth is Bloggers love words. :) It's great to read of your love for words and appreciation for home!

Charity Singleton said...

Glynn-I love Frederick Buechner. He's such a tender soul and still going at 85. I'm only 40 and I think more and more of home. And I agree with another commenter about passions becoming quieter as we grow older.

Jannie Funster said...

I love getting older. And wiser! It seems we are genetically programmed to get better.

I was just thinking of home as I typed my comment on the last blog I visited. I am SO FAR from there, 2700 miles. I better get on back to Canada sooner than later, my folks are now in their 70s.

The Book Of Common Prayer has some lovely passages indeed.

Nikole Hahn said...

What a lovely ending to your blog! Yes, I've been hearkening to the books I dismissed as a teenager, the classics. Sometimes, I love reading them now that I am older and can appreciate the literature.

Tracy Krauss said...

Deeper and wider - this seems to be a theme of late. Just read a wonderful companion post at Inkwell Inspirations ...http://inkwellinspirations.blogspot.com/2011/08/deep-and-wide.html

nance marie said...

keep up this talking about home, and i am going to start crying.

Caroline said...

I agree with other commenters here, Glynn. I'm so thankful you share this passion for words here with us. Words can hold such power (beautiful and ugly).

I love Robert Frost's poetry, too, by the way.