Tree Clumps

“Cathie, I just got home from our Book Club’s first meeting about your book, and I wanted to give you some feedback. It was just so amazing! Call me back!”

The voice mail from my sister-in-law thrilled me as much as the book had thrilled her group. The book club venue was not my idea originally, it was hers. I don’t think either of us realized what an instant hit it would be. I called her back, and we reveled in the inspiration – and yes, a bit of transformation – that Reviving Our Indigenous Souls had generated in just one session of her church-based book club.

Book Clubs seem to be gaining in popularity (Why else would Hollywood choose to make a movie about them?), so book clubs are now squarely on my radar screen as viable and vibrant venues for introducing my book. It seems only proper, then, that I begin the way I usually do: I researched the etymology (original root word and meanings) of “book” and “club.”

The oldest known root of “book” is *bhago-, which means “beech tree.” The French word for book is livre, from the Latin word librum, which means “the inner bark of trees.” These origins indicate the medium upon which words were recorded. The precursor to the pages of modern-day books were sections of tree bark.

“Club,” from the Proto Germanic root *klumbon, is related to “clump,” which is a group or organization of people that meet for a common purpose or intent. A clump is a cluster or small close group.

backyard-sunset.jpgThere you have it: book clubs are tree clumps. Not exactly the best material for a Hollywood movie, right? But let’s keep going in the direction that the etymology has given us, and consider the features of trees and clumps that help us revive our indigenous souls. And let’s use my sister-in-law’s book club as an example of how those very features are embodied by the group, as evidenced by their feedback.

Trees are known for their deep and broad root systems. The club members enjoyed how my writing style primed them for going deeper into the meaning of the words they were reading, to the point of acknowledging that indeed words are alive, and that they matter. They realized that there was so much more that could be discovered and discussed than time allowed in the session. And just as tree roots are mostly hidden from our view, these women learned that each short chapter contained much more depth than was apparent at first glance.

Complimenting their underground root system are the trees’ branches that spread upward and outward. Several comments indicated that the group experienced that same type of growth: “It expanded our understanding of the Biblical reference we’re so familiar with: ‘In the beginning was the word . . . ;’” and “In just this first meeting, we have learned so much about each other.”

Trees bear leaves and fruit, and so did the first gathering of these readers. One of them, after reading the “Breathe” chapter, applied what she learned to her jogging. She paid attention to her breathing in a way she had never done before. Another member, following the group discussion about cooperation vs. competition, was prompted to reflect upon her career experiences in sales.

As for “clump” – The closing moments of the group’s first meeting were spent in fervent discussion about what to name their book club. The women are still working on it, continuing to brainstorm until they meet again next week. “Tree Clump” isn’t a chart-topping, glitzy title, and it probably won’t get any votes from the women in this purposeful group, but that’s how I will know them.

(If your Book Club/Tree Clump is interested in selecting Reviving Our Indigenous Souls as your next group read, feel free to contact me here for some guidance.)

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