My college friend came to visit us Friday with her family: watching The Wrinkle in Time movie with us, having a corned beef dinner, sleeping over, exploring Lompoc in the morning and Avila Beach for a late lunch on their way home. It was a good time. As we drove out to Avila, she in the car with me and the kids together in the car with her husband, she said that it was good to see me sitting with Maurice late at night on the couch; it reminded her of our college days, and she was happy to see her old friends as they used to be.
“Yes,” I replied, “We’ve had our hard times in almost 30 years of marriage, but it feels like we’re winning our way back, and circling round to where we started from.” Only deeper, I thought, our love made sure by the hard times we’ve come through, by the grace of God.
I had bought a new book this week and haven’t gotten as far in it as I would have liked to be in order to write a review, but I think already it is giving me rich food for thought, and help in living well. The book is Reframing the Soul: How Words Transform Our Faith, by Greg Spencer. I was interested in it for several reasons: it is written by someone I know; it deals with words and may be useful for my work as an adjunct professor of English (composition) at Westmont College; and it seems to have the goal of faith transformation…which I hope means renewal or encouragement or betterment in some way. I’m only in chapter 2, but the events of the weekend connect to this lovely book.
The reflection, both the picture my friend connected of my sitting on a couch with Maurice as I used to do when our love was young and vibrant, and now when our love is old and growing full again, was a gift. My acceptance and acknowledgment was a reframing of those hard times, for surely all marriages have their hard times?
Reframing, as I am starting to understand it from Dr. Greg Spencer’s book, is choosing how to tell a story of my life that maybe used to be told one way (where things hurt me) but can be told from a vantage point of truth and grace. I’m not far along, remember, so I look forward to learning more and applying it.
But I made one more connection with the book on Friday when I wasn’t even reading it, that I’d like to share here: we went to see Wrinkle in Time, and Reframing made me remember an incident in one of the sequels where the main character, Meg, must choose the real Mr. Jenkins (the principal with whom she has a difficult relationship). She is shown several carbon copies, and is distracted until she remembers that her friend Calvin told her of Mr. Jenkins offering him a new pair of shoes that were scuffed up on purpose to look old so that he would accept them. She shut her eyes and named the real Mr. Jenkins on that story, not on the conflicts and confusion she felt with him in her own relationship. She reframed who he was to her, I think Dr. Spencer would say.
I like that every chapter ends with a poem. I think Dr. Spencer was brave to include poetry but also encouraging, because poetry should be something that all of us write, not just the best, paid poets. But he’s amazing in that the poems connect with and summarize (so far, I’m only in chapter 2, remember) what he has said in the chapter they conclude.
Perhaps this quote gives the best taste of the book I can offer here:
Years ago, astronomer Johannes Kepler inspired scientific work by calling it “thinking God’s thoughts after him,” encouraging researchers to follow the logic of God’s mind. Perhaps the inspired goal of good framing is “speaking God’s words after him,” encouraging communicators to pattern their language decisions after God’s choices. Both can lead to restoration or reformation, even resurrection. (p. 30)
Thanking and praising God tonight for friends and books!