What to do during the shutdown

You may be wondering what to do with your time while we all wait for broken politics and broken politicians to reopen the National Parks. I have a few suggestions.

NationalParksClosed_2013

National Parks are still closed eight days later, and though there’s access to some places, some of the closing measures seem punitive, designed to make citizens as mad as possible.

I simply don’t understand this quagmire, but instead of letting it make me despondent, I’ve searched for ways to be grateful and to fill my time with activities that soothe and heal and calm my soul.

Blazingsunset_2013

Nothing beats a stunning sunset at the close of the day. I could have missed this one had I been focused on watching the nightly news instead of sitting on the porch swing at the close of day.

FallLeaves_2013

The federal government can’t shut down autumn. Get outside. Visit a state park (or even parts of National Parks that you can still get into. Or simply go for a walk in your neighborhood.

Fall is here, and it’s bringing its beauty with it. The government can’t mess up some things. So go outside and look for the change of seasons. Visit a pumpkin patch. Go leaf collecting. Fill up your bird feeders and see who’s still around looking for seeds.

FallBooks_2013

Good reads!

Even if the weather isn’t cooperating where you are for outdoor adventures, or autumn hasn’t yet made an appearance, there are still ways to tune out the shutdown. Read a good book!

I’ve been catching up on my unread book pile lately and thought I’d share some of them with you.

A friend and fellow writer posted an interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber on her Facebook page recently, and as soon as I listened to the interview, I was hooked. Bolz-Weber is the author of Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, a stunning memoir in which Bolz-Weber describes the damage done to her as a child growing up in an ultra-conservative church, her subsequent path through alcohol, drug abuse and recovery (not to mention a few tattoo parlors) and into a Grace-filled life as a Lutheran pastor. If you have read this book, I want to sit down and talk about it with you over coffee.

But this book isn’t for everyone. It may not be for you:

  • If you mind salty language (Bolz-Weber can make even sailors blush sometimes).
  • If you think church shouldn’t welcome certain groups of sinners (not you, of course, but the really bad sinners like drag queens, swindlers, alcoholics, government officials … ahem).
  • If you think God’s grace can only happen to certain people who then go on to live out perfect, conventional, acceptable lives.
  • If you think a female Lutheran tattooed “pastrix” (a pejorative for women pastors) has nothing to say that could change your heart about or for God and those whom God calls us to love (our neighbors, our enemies, ourselves).

Anyway, like I said, if you read the book, I’d love to discuss it with you.

Since I like to alternate between fiction and nonfiction these days – an easy way to cleanse my reading palate – the next book I picked up was Louise Penny’s The Brutal Telling, the fifth in her Inspector Gamache series. I don’t want to give too much away because it is a mystery and is the fifth in a series set in a small Canadian village with characters I’ve grown to love, but I will tell you this: The Brutal Telling is Penny’s best book yet. There are more in the series, and I’m woefully behind. So she may have better later books, but The Brutal Telling is haunting and magical and masterful. I love what Penny writes on her website about her own books: “If you take only one thing away from any of my books I’d like it to be this: Goodness exists.” This belief in goodness comes through in the way she writes, and the goodness in her complex characters shines through even the darkness inside them.

Next up on my list to read: Alberto Salazar’s 14 Minutes: A Running Legend’s Life and Death and Life. That’s not a typo. This world-class runner, now a coach to running greats such as Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, Dathan Ritzenheim and high school phenom Mary Cain, spent 14 minutes dead. No pulse dead. My husband has already read the book, and I’m looking forward to the inspiration it promises.

How about you? Are you finding good ways to distract yourself from the government shutdown? What about your favorite books that you’ve read lately? I’m always looking for recommendations to add to my to-be-read book stack.

2 thoughts on “What to do during the shutdown

  1. I love “the government can’t shut down autumn”! Well said!
    Thanks for the book recommendations.
    I just picked up a copy of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me by Karen Sallow Prior in preparation for a retreat (called an Advance) I’m attending Nov. 8-9 (7-10) in Ocean City! You should join us. I think it’s just your kind of thing, Hope. We’re going to sit around and discuss books for two days. Here’s the link: http://www.leonardsweet.com/advances_new.php?id=65

    • Thanks, Tracey! I look forward to hearing what you think of Booked! A retreat where I could sit and talk about books for two days does sound delightful, but I’m booked (hah!) that weekend already. Enjoy the retreat!

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