Faith seeking understanding #022: On lessons learned from a reading binge

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Photo by Ahmad Ossayli on Unsplash.

I’ve been reading a lot today. That is a good thing, especially since I was worried last night that my reading time has been usurped—quite pleasantly—by writing these reflections. But I found myself stuck at a desk for a stretch of five hours and nothing else I had to do, so I read.

I usually read the New York Times online during these periods, but I have recently become infatuated by the broad platform created by Medium.com, where I post these reflections in addition to posting them on my blog at joncarllewis.com. Medium.com is a nonfiction reader’s paradise, with writings on myriad topics, and designed to offer the reader suggestions of other things to read based on what one has already read.

Today, I zigged and zagged between writings on spirituality and writings on writing, writings on race and writings on sexuality, writings on Christianity… and more writings on Christianity. I had a great time.

And what did I learn from the experience?

Well, in addition to the content of the articles I read (which was greatly instructive), I hope I increased my feel for language, i.e. how words in the English language can go together to create various types of effects. I hope I also learned a little bit about structure and how to shape a story so that it has a clear beginning, end, and a point or two. Most important, I hope I took to heart all the good advice around the need to be honest and write one’s truth as the best way to resonate with readers.

But, mostly, I learned new ways to articulate the truths and experiences buried in my heart. Time after time I was excited to find that I had a shared experience with many of the authors, from the experience of coming from the same, obscure part of the country, to the experience of navigating similar social terrain such as being Black and gay and Christian.

And, most of all, I received encouragement to write. I received encouragement to play with words and get the impressions in my mind out of my head and down on paper. I received encouragement to do exactly what I am doing now, which is to take a fragment of an idea, an experience, and spin it out into a tale that means something to me and, perhaps, might mean something to somebody else.

Because, after all, that is the point of this whole exercise. Somewhere today, I read that we are humans telling stories, not just writers telling stories. I read that we are full human beings trying to communicate an experience, not only scribes lining up words in interesting ways. Although I’m not sure which of the dozens of articles I read contained this wisdom (gotta get better at capturing quotes and attributions), this was the best advice I had received in a long time.

And so, I hope I have communicated an experience in this short piece. I hope my experience has resonated with yours or somebody else’s.

I hope I have been a human communicating with another human, a heart opened to another’s heart.

Because it’s important work.

And because there is nothing else I’d rather do.

Thank you for your time and attention.
I’d love to know your thoughts on what you’ve read.
Please comment, below, or email me at joncarllewis@gmail.com.
May God richly bless you on your journey.

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Faith seeking understanding #022: On lessons learned from a reading binge

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