Cathedral Reads: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
By: The Reverend Becky Zartman
I remember exactly where I was, and what I was doing, when I read Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. I didn’t quite understand what was happening at first, because it was clear that although Mrs Dalloway was about preparing for a party, this book was actually not at all about preparing for a party. Somehow, I was invited into a world of different perspectives, illuminations, and striking observations of human existence. I read the entire book in one sitting.
I didn’t understand Woolf (or Mrs Dalloway, for that matter) but I knew that I loved her. She came at the truth sideways, which is perhaps the only way to tell these sort of truths (perhaps this explains Jesus’ fondness for parable?) What I learned was to let myself be in each moment as Woolf presented it; and in doing that, I learned how to better let myself be in each moment of my own life. She gave me license to see, really see, right now, how the light drifts through the live oak, revealing the dust mites in the air, a moment in time. Woolf showed me that even when the right now is hard-edged, it is only the right now that holds wonder and joy.
I know this isn’t an easy book, and I know it generates deep and meaningful questions and discussion. So we’ve created a “you can do the thing!” Cathedral Reads this summer.
We will be hosting online small groups, a weekly “Loose Canons” discussion, and of course Dean Thompson’s Cathedral Reads Dean’s Hour on August 7. One other thing worth noting – since the book is so experiential, we’ve planned a “Lily Briscoe Painting Party” at the Art Cellar in River Oaks. We will be painting a piece inspired by Woolf and To the Lighthouse. That event will be July 21 at 7 p.m.
I very much hope you can join me and others in talking about this extraordinary book. You can do the thing! We can do the thing! And more than that, we can experience the thing.