Adorning the Dark by Peterson, a review


Adorning The Dark by Andrew Peterson

Currently, I am sitting in the living room with Molly eating lo mein noodles while Rolo watches every move she makes.  Mack is taunting the dog and begging Molly for a taste of her food. Ruby is in and out of the kitchen while they wait for some appetizers to be finished. The tv blares with the LSU football game. I sit here with my laptop open, my stomach hurting (I have GOT to take my lactose intolerance more seriously), and I can’t eat anything they are about to devour—nor do I enjoy football or anything that comes on tv for that matter. Yet, I don’t want to disappear into my little upstairs sanctuary. I want to be with everyone—I think. Lots of talking, lots of smells, lots of loud commercials. 

But I am typing in order to encourage someone to read more this coming year. I absolutely love to read. I currently have about four books going at the same time, a habit I have doubted, but not broken over the last few years. I think one book at a time is a great goal, but I am sometimes stuck in the carpool lot and only have one certain book in my purse, so I read. Then, at night before bed, I look over to my nightstand and see a different book, so I read. Sometimes I am upstairs in my office and pick up yet a different book on my desk, so I read. Hence, three books going at once. Can’t seem to help it. 

Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson is a book about using one’s creativity for God, in particular the creative work of words. Writing. He shares his journey, his struggles, his victories and God’s grace all along the way. I particularly took away this simple truth:  Writing is work. Hard, hard work. Early on in the book, he says, “At the risk of repeating myself, this is how it works. It’s not magic. It’s work. You think, you walk, you think some more, you look for moments to hammer it out on the piano, then you think again.”

His analogies between creative work and nature were insightful. “Sometimes you’ve done all the planting you need to do, and it’s time to start weeding the garden.” (page 43)

He mentions songs as 100-meter dashes and books as marathons. “They both take work. Different kinds of work, but it’s all work.” (page 77)

He recommends Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, which I am about to order after I finish writing this post. And he shares the importance of boiling down your writing to what is most excellent, most needed, most essential. Much of the work I probably need to work on in my writing is what to leave out. He shares a quote by Lamott—“The best thing you can do to write your book is to stop not doing it. Just stop it.”  So simple. So true.

He recommends Bandersnatch by Diana Pavlac Glyer and encourages artists to find “resonators.” “They need someone who gets what you’re trying to do, who is moved by your work and will encourage you to keep fighting when the battle is long.” (page 145) I’ve done a few things this past year to put myself around “resonators,” and I have taken note of those ladies in my life who usually reach out with a word of encouragment to me after a blog is posted. These sweet faces make up my audience. They are all most definitely worth any work I do with words. 

As a writer (still unsure I should call myself that?), I am often discouraged in the process. I am bombarded with my lack and many voices saying, ‘What’s the use? Who really cares?’ Peterson lays out encouragement in the last chapter and shares his own vulnerabilities, challenging anyone who has a story, to share that story.  “One day, perhaps, when I’m dead and gone, and my songs and stories lie in the ruins of some old forest and no one remembers my name, whatever good and beautiful and human thing that he King of Creation called forth from me will fall to the earth and grow brambly and wild, and some homesick and hungry soul will leave the well-worn path and say, ‘Look! Someone lived here. Praise God, there are berries everywhere.’”

It’s hard here on this broken earth to believe in the good that God has given to each one of His children, to actually put to use the talents that belong to God and are to be stewarded in you and in me. As Andrew Peterson puts it, “Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor, too, by making worlds and works of beauty that blanket the earth like flowers. Let your homesickness keep you always from spiritual slumber. Remember that it is in the fellowship of saints, of friends and family, that your gift will grow best, and will find its best expression.”

So, I highly recomment Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson.  You will be challenged, encouraged, and enlightened on your journey to use creative outlets for God’s glory. And maybe I will share more book reviews over the coming months—as soon as I finish the four books I have going at the moment. Happy Reading!

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