Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Never Let Me Go

"No sooner had I labored over this new life did it hit me: I love her, and she could die.
I tried not to think about it. I didn't know what else to do, the thought unraveled me so quickly, I couldn't bear it. As I rocked her back to sleep in the dark morning hours, I tried to train my mind not to consider all the bad things that could happen to her."
                                                                     -- excerpt from Any Day a Beautiful Change

I read -no- devoured those words just days after seeing the Holocaust picture that
wrecked my heart. I had been feverishly searching for some sort of balm in the aftermath of the image and it seemed that Katherine Willis Pershey was tending directly to me
by sharing her most vulnerable experiences with love.

"I am terrified I am going to lose my child, " she writes, "I am terrified that by giving voice to that fear, I'm communicating to the universe (to God?) that I'm the consummate target to become a bereaved parent."

In spite of the heavy subject matter of that particular chapter, I smiled in recognition of those feeling, I smiled because I felt so not alone.
For months I'd had mothers tell me what I was going to experience and what I was not going to experience but no one had so bravely whispered the most beautifully raw and awful of all the shifts:
my love was going to rip my heart like a claw.

To be clear, this book has just as many laugh-out-loud moments as it does heavy explorations: the things that echo my internal topography right now are the mama moments.

"Do you sing 'Jesus Loves Me' in Sunday school?" I asked.
"Yeah," she answered, nodding enthusiastically.
In the interest of my daughter's faith formation, I jumped at the chance to engage in some meaty yet two-year-old-appropriate theological conversation. "So you know Jesus loves you."
She looked thoughtful for a moment. I waited for the brilliant spiritual insight to spring from the mouth of my babe. Instead, she smacked her rear end and giggled. "That's my butt."

Any Day a Beautiful Change is a collection of essays documenting the life, marriage and motherhood of a female pastor.

Katherine has been a dear friend to me for years; I attended her sermons when she was still preaching in the South Bay and she married my husband and I in Claremont.
Her memoir writing is warm and real, just like her un-written (non-writing?) personality
and just as her sermons did, this book made me want to be a Christian
not because it was filled with persuasion, but because of the honesty with which she loves Jesus
and the brave questions she asks of God, of her faith.

In the forward of Any Day she mentions
Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott: I decided that I would pick up a copy to read on my flight to Minneapolis, a kind of one-woman-inside joke for a mama traveling alone with a baby -
if there was time to read even a single page with an infant in tow indeed there are mercies in my travel!!

I just finished the book yesterday and just as with Katherine's text I never wanted it to end. I wanted each woman to come sit with me in the evenings when all the chores had been done-
to sit with me at the kitchen table and tell me more

about their faith
about their bravery and motherhood and faults.

Neither book would have ever been enough because both authors were just so likeable, their experiences so relatable and their words just *so* like an expertly done pie crust... do you know what I mean?
The things you always think to yourself that you cannot ever seem to sketch verbally these two books
drew with a gentle and formidable hand
clear as a Marin morning.

Beautiful, indeed.

On this day I feel partnered in my joy, fear and searching by these two women, one whose face and mind I know and love, the other who lives a short distance away but whose life I will likely never know intimately.

Beyond partnered, I should say - lifted. Recognizing the bond in the universality of it all - that's a big gift bound in paperback.

What have you been reading lately?
Any recommendations?



mairedodd said...

powerful stuff...
aldous huxley 'island'
my daughter called me last week just moments after being in a car accident... they brought her to the hospital via ambulance... because traffic was so backed up i was advised to meet her at the hospital - in the car ride my thoughts became a mantra of gratitude and wishes that whatever it was, it was fixable... thankfully all injuries were minor and caused by air bag deployment and seat belts working... she needed stitches in her face, but we know it could have been ever so much worse...
and yes, with the greatest, most intense love one ever knows comes the pendulum swing that can take you beyond the moon...
big hugs, a -

Lindsey said...

Traveling Mercies is one of my favorite books. I love her honesty.I have read a few other books by her and have enjoyed them as well.
Have you read Shanghai Girls by Lisa See? It's a novel about the lives of two Chinese sisters. REALLY GOOD in my opinion.

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Sending your daughter healing thoughts and huge hugs to you my dear woman. Xo

Sunny Rising Leather said...

Yes, Lindsey she is SO honest - I also read Blue Shoe and Bird by Bird- loved them all! I will so look into your suggested book - thank you!

Chuckles said...

motherhood is not for the faint of heart....
this is what I believe
it takes you to places nothing else ever would or could
my boys push pull and bring me places no man has ever been able to do before
: ) its so good for me....

it is not for everyone
this motherhood gig
and that is ok ♥
women without their own children contribute in an equally important way as surrogate mothers to the children in their truly takes a village

Do you remember when I emailed you back when you were pregnant
I spoke about how your body would open during birth
shuffling about emotions and stored memories, bringing them to the forefront?
Physically Spiritually all intertwined, connected, beautifully woven together
a miracle of life
the miracle of life

you are amazing
thank you for this post

love and light

Cat said...

I realize that I may have commented under my 9year olds account...chuckles
sorry A
it was from me Cat @ Love and Light

kerin rose said...

any thing by ann lamott...anything....
but these days its "Quiet...the power of introverts in a world that won't stop talking!" Susan Cain...really patience for fiction has kinda worn thin....:)