Books can be vessels of God’s Spirit to us, enriching our faith by reminding us of Jesus’ teaching and by opening our eyes to God at work in the world. For this year’s summer reading, I’m recommending two books and a devotional. All three have been vessels of God’s Spirit to me.
Wendell Berry is a farmer, Christian, and award-winning author of many works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Christian friends recommended him, and when I asked what I should read, they said Jayber Crow. It’s a novel I enjoyed because of its relatable and amusing characters; engaging plot; and simple, memorable writing. The book gets you thinking about change and life and death and friendship and community and what matters. The Spirit spoke to me especially through comments like: “But the earth speaks to us of Heaven, or why would we want to go there?”
Like Berry, Annie Dillard is a prolific, award-winning writer and Christian. Her Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (it’s setting is nearby Tinker Creek!) won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1975. On practically every page, I learn something I didn’t know, and it’s opened my eyes much wider to the manifold wonders of our natural world. I often pause to reflect on her observations. For example, she writes: “There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with [unwrapped gifts and free surprises] cast broadside from a generous hand.” That generous hand, of course, is God’s.
Finally, I recommend “Pray As You Go,” a daily devotional available as an app (in the App Store or Google Play for Android devices) and online. It’s based on the spiritual practices of St. Ignatius of Loyola and includes music, Scripture, and questions and brief commentary to help you engage with and reflect on a Bible story or passage. Though you can read it, I enjoy listening to it, particularly because of the music and singing. It’s my go-to devotional, and I encourage you to listen to it (or read it) regularly to foster your own faith in the Lord.