I think I’ll call it the “immersion effect.” Happens when a person with chills, fever, congestion and sore muscles tries to read a book on their Kindle while lying prone on a couch dressed in sweats and covered with a blanket. This happened to me a few days ago. I think it was Wednesday, but am only recently back to a fully alert state, so frankly, I’m not sure what day it was.
My head felt like it was several sizes too large for my neck, full of a viscous substance that sloshed and threw me off-balance when I tried to walk. I had downloaded Eric Weiner’s new book, Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine. This temporary and mercifully brief illness was the perfect foil for an interactive experience with this book. Read a page or two, drop the Kindle on my belly when I fall into a deep sleep; dream about what I read as though I were going through the experiences with the author, then stir, read a few more pages with burning eyes, drop the Kindle and repeat. I read the whole book this way over several days.
Weiner’s own quest began after a brief hospitalization where, at one point, a nurse asked him, “Have you found your God yet?” That question was the seed from which his book sprouted. Self-described as a “gastronomical Jew,” Weiner explores microscopic slivers of versions of 8 religions, including Sufism, the Catholic Franciscans, Kabbalah, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shamanism, Wicca and Raëlism. A chapter was just about my limit before my stylus-wielding finger slid off the screen and “plop,” I was off again into an immersion experience blending sleep with what I just read.
I’m not quite ready for prime time yet, but the fever is gone and I’m stumbling around in more or less a straight line. But the reaction to Weiner’s book has stayed with me: it’s a whole-wheat cake with some frosting; not ooey-gooey, but with a few too many fruit and nut clusters. I woke up after the last chapter wanting to run, not walk, down to the old church, Christ Episcopal, and soak up the dark wood, stained glass, sky-painted dome, earnest parishioners and a rector who is a very complicated simple man — the best shepherd for his flock I’ve yet seen — and know perhaps for the first time, that I have found my home.