C.S. Lewis move over! Here comes Denise Jackson. Reminiscent of the Oxford doyen's Surprised by Joy, Jackson's faith biography comes to us in the tenor of a Southern blonde belle. Her unabashed naked soul shakes the reader to the core. As a graying librarian I've learned to listen carefully to my patrons. One day a mousey female in her late 20's approached saying, "I want the book, It's All About Him. You know --the book by the wife of Alan Jackson, the country-western music star." When she said his name, her lowered face raised to shine into mine. Some people think librarians know everything! As a recovering nerdy intellectual snob struggling to be open to the world, I never listen to country western music and do not personally know anyone who does. So I responded in what I hope avoided a patronizing attitude and said my usual, "Oh, let's see if it's here." She humbly followed me, head down to the stacks. We had several copies. My patron looked up at me with a glowing smile as I handed her the book. On the cover were two beautiful people with blond hair and blue eyes, clearly in love. I wondered how many beavers had died for the Stetson he was wearing. It was the sort of picture that would draw me while in the doctor's office waiting room - looking for something to help me see what the teaming masses were reading these days. I'm one of those people who cannot tell the difference between the best dressed and worst dressed in. In any case, having just completed my master's degree in counseling psychology, I was exhausted from the searing introspection, academic load, and taxing schedule. Some light reading was in order. Underneath that mousey patron's exterior was intelligence and deep longing. Maybe she was onto something. A bestseller would not require me to have a dictionary in one hand, and anything with a picture like that on the cover had to be easy reading. I checked it out for my annual Christmas trip to Conception Abbey to celebrate the religious holiday and to rest. As it turned out, this was the perfect setting for this book. Typical of those from a Calvinist tradition, I am a fan of C.S. Lewis. His works have changed my life. Within a couple of pages of Jackson's faith biography, C.S. Lewis' own came to mind. The words were easy, the message hard. So much for my vacation from searing introspection! Living in the shadow of her inspired poet musician husband, Jackson opens her soul and tells her journey like a great artist who has the courage to withstand the onslaught of the cynics and critics. Beautifully written and clearly thought out, this treasure is a valuable tool for priests, pastors, counselors and librarians who are helping others.
Oak Park Library is currently closed and will re-open on Monday, Dec. 18 at 9 a.m.