On my Instagram posts, I love highlighting particular quotes from books which resonate with me, or provide me with ‘aha’ moments. Phosphorescence made this task near impossible. I lingered over every page, soaking in the exquisite imagery, profound perceptions, and personal insights which were articulated in lyrical, yet extensively researched, prose. Quite simply, I did not want this book to end. I read it slowly, deliberately. And I insisted my 3 daughters read the chapter I wish I’d written for them.
While reading, I kept thinking ‘same, same, but different.’ Julia Baird and I are of a similar age and attended similar schools and churches. We have similar-sounding mothers (she could have been describing mine – “whenever Mum enters a room … everything seems easier, calmer, cheerier”) and we both belong to loving, prominent families. We delight in our children, and have friends of unspeakable loyalty and goodness. We love the written word, particularly poetry, and have even unexpectedly become the owner of a puppy in the past year (although mine is a teensy tiny black ball of fluff).
But that’s where the similarity ends. I am the antithesis of a thrill-seeker, and cannot think of anything worse than swimming in the ocean past where I can stand, or trekking in Nepal. I do not rub shoulders with the likes of Helen Garner (if only!) or Magda Szubanski, and living overseas consisted of 18 months in Wellington NZ while teaching. And although I have ongoing struggles with chronic illness, I have never grappled mentally or physically with a life-threatening cancer.
And yet, and yet...
I feel complete when I sit on my deck and gaze at the trees, or see mist in the valley like a thick white (not rainbow) serpent, or when I’m visited by impossibly bright king parrots, screeching white cockatoos or cackling kookaburras. When the sky turns pink, purple or orange, I am in awe. It centres me. It puts my pride, my anxiety, my dreams in perspective. It isn’t exactly phosphorescence, a light from within, but it provides a calmness within me. Peace. A sense of God’s presence.
Julia Baird’s book has been a timely reminder to open our eyes and see everyday beauty which inspires awe and wonder, and to cherish the grace and love that surrounds us. Particularly in these times of uncertainty and change, both globally and personally, this book is a balm for the soul.
I would love to hear your thoughts of this book, or your encounters with awe, wonder or grace. Please comment below.
Please find here an assorted mix of what I tend to read - new books, old books, birthday gifts, gifts to myself, books from my to-be-read pile, Book Group books, fiction, non-fiction, memoirs - basically a weird assortment of goodies!
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