Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Work in Progress

Redeemed: Stumbling Toward God, Sanity, and the Peace that Passes All Understanding
by Heather King

Sorry, friends, that my blog got a little outdated. We got away for some Memorial Day fun with longtime friends. The kids played, the adults relaxed, and everyone had a great time. I became interested in Heather King's writings when I came across one of her essays in the 2008 Best American Spiritual Writing. The essay published in that anthology is called "The Closest to Love We Ever Get." It is a really moving piece of writing.

That introduction caused me to investigate what else of Heather King's is out there, waiting like a gift to be opened. Turns out she has written this memoir, as well as an earlier one called Parched. Her earlier book is not as readily available, but am sure I will find it and read it at some point. King reminds me of a Roman Catholic Anne Lamott. She has a sharp wit that she is not afraid to turn on herself, but she is basically kindhearted. She is relentlessly honest about her own ups and downs, especially her years lost to alcoholism. In this memoir alone she endures the death of her father (which she describes with tremendous poignancy), a scary career change, a painful divorce, and a bout with breast cancer. She also discusses, among
other things, her relationship with money. Most of us do not like to admit our petty or stingy feelings about money - it is one of our least acknowledged sins, but King confronts it head on in a way that is refreshing and (in the end) hopeful.

I do not think that Heather King would describe herself as "done" - meaning there is still room for growth and further movement towards the peace and reconciliation that is God. But, if we are truthful with ourselves, we know that none of us is done. It might not be all that fun to be fully enlightened - if we were, what would we have to seek and aspire to? I liked King's book because she both challenges us to seek God and affirms who we already are as children of God. I find myself incorporating some of her suggestions for prayer and mindfulness into my own daily routines, and have been pleasantly surprised at a heightened sense of awareness of grace, beauty and Presence. Her prayer "Bless ( insert name of whoever is bugging me), change me" has become one of my frequent mantras, and, amazingly, when prayed consistently, it really does help.

Heather King has experienced the lowest places in life, and survived to tell about them. She has done more than tell about them, though - she has integrated all parts of herself - the good, the bad, and the ugly - into a whole that is always growing into the person God created her to be. Her book has some rough spots because she does not sugar coat the awful places she has been, but she is a beautiful writer and person. I'll be eager to read more of her work.

Reverent Reader


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