It’s Monday, and while I’m back at the desk for the first time in a long time, we are still unpacking. It’s true—just to get my desk clear and pretend like I have nothing else to do but to write to you I had to take everything off and put it in not-so-neat piles on the bed and on the window sill—picture frames, stacks of papers, misplaced trinkets and mismatched socks; in short, things that I just don’t want to deal with.
What I was most looking forward to unpacking, however, were my books—boxes and boxes of books. It might seem a bit much to some that half of our boxes were filled with books and most of those books are mine (side note: always pack books in small boxes!). But it is a carefully curated library made up of images that inspire, words that bring comfort, and stories that beg me to return again and again (Harry Potter, I’m looking at you).
However, of all of the genres that fill my shelves—interior design and decorating, cookbooks, classics, travel guides, books on psychology and theology, health and mindfulness, and a selection of young adult novels I’ll never get rid of (I’m a part of the Sisterhood, after all)—my most-cherished collection is of books written by those who have come to be my journey guides and spiritual midwives.
A few weeks ago at my spiritual direction training we were asked to create a timeline of our spiritual history, recording thresholds and markers, along with seasons of change and going deeper. Alongside these moments and eras, we were to name those who have guided us and influenced us along the way.
It was then that I realized that each season and shift in my spiritual journey was accompanied by a seed-planting or life-altering book. Names of authors who had unknowingly served as mentors to me in these times of transition and awakening spilled onto my spiritual timeline.
Before long I realized I could create a timeline of my own reading history that would run perfectly parallel to my spiritual history. If I were to tell you which books I read in school that stayed with me, which authors I read in times of transition that stirred something within, and which voices continue to take me deeper in my search, you would be able to know my spiritual history without ever glancing at my spiritual timeline. And perhaps more significant than that, you would be given a glimpse into my soul—you would know my seasons of growth and struggle, my questions and desires, my yearnings and convictions, and above all, my hope—the thin, strong thread that keeps me on this journey.
I’ve started to refer to these authors as my journey guides and spiritual midwives, because that’s what they are, without a doubt. And I want to share them with you. And so, as I continue to unpack my boxes of books, I’ll be setting aside the books by those who have formed me to share them with you over the next many months. I want to invite you to peruse my shelves and know more of myself and my spiritual journey because of it.
What about you? Who are some authors you consider to be your journey guides and spiritual midwives?