Loving Something Alive

Upon first read, Annie Dillard’s Holy the Firm remained aloof, inaccessible, coy even.

The words, poetic and charged,–genius though I knew–clung flat to the page.

But–I also knew–he loved her. My teacher. This man who delights in words and parsings of words and sumptuous sentences loved this work.

On I read. On I hoped to see what he saw. 


I didn’t. Not quite right away.


But in class–oh that glorious class–all was illuminated. 


He showed me. The motifs, the symbols, the genius, the love and care placed in each word pairing enlivened in his careful, awestruck reading. The words, once hugging the page, now alive and aflame, embracing my heart. 

He loved Holy the Firm alive.

We love because He first loved us (a different he, a different teacher, but really is he so different after all?). We know the care and genius of it all, but the words fall flat. Our lives fall flat. We fall face down dusty flat.

Until He reads us anew. The motifs, the symbols, the genius, the love and care placed in each pairing of eyes, of feet, of fingers enlivened in His careful, awestruck reading. Of our lives.

The Master Teacher, awestruck? With me? With us? With this little old book forgotten in a seat back pocket?

Yes. A billionish times yes.

We’ve only to show up for class.

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