Sunday, November 15, 2009

Quaker Summer

Haven't blogged about the "Year of Reading Gloriously" lately but I'm still on track and have finished a couple of books, am into a third. As the holidays approach I've been super busy letting everyone know about "Christmas Miracles" a new book written and compiled by Cecil Murphy and Marley Gibson and others (including my friend and boss Twila Belk). Please check it out at There is also a fan page if you're on Facebook.

A good friend recommended Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson to me last summer and I finished it in early October. From the back cover:

"Heather Curridge is coming unhinged. And people are starting to notice. What's wrong with a woman who has everything--a mansion on a lake, a loving son, a heart-surgeon husband, and soapstone countertops--yet still feels miserable inside? Yet when Heather spends the summer with two ancient Quaker sisters and a crusty nun in a downtown homeless shelter, she suddenly finds herself at a crossroads."

This pretty much sums it up. I had a really difficult time relating to Heather. In the book she says, "Every year I think there must be more to life, and every year, despite a new car or a trip to a new land, new milestones and triumphs in my son's life, or a redone deck, a pool, a spa, or entertainment system, I take stock and think once again, I was made for more than this. But I love my stuff." Hmmm. I am not a person who is preoccupied with buying things and I had some real problems even imagining Heather's affluent life-style.

But I could certainly identify with her struggle to do what God wanted her to do instead of going her own way. God calls Heather so far out of her comfort zone in such an unmistakable voice it's hard to ignore Yet she actually waffles until the night she has a kangaroo (!) hop across the road in front of her SUV. Talk about God getting your attention.

This book has memorable characters, true to (yuppie) life struggles and even some action sequences although it's best quality is the call it gives to Christians get out of our safe little small groups and insulated lives and begin to serve, as Jesus did, the "least of these".

There was one bit of "action" near the end that truly disappointed me. After spending the entire book encouraging women to go to the poorer parts of town, to the halfway houses and homeless shelters, an incident occurs that I would assume might be a major source of undoing all the good that had come before. I don't want to include a spoiler, but let me share an experience of my own to shed some light on why I wish the author "hadn't gone there".

For a number of years I played in a conservative church's all ladies handbell choir. On occasion we were asked to play for a men's minimum security prison. Each time it was a struggle for some of the husbands to allow their wives to go into what they perceived as a dangerous situation. In the end, we all went (and if I remember correctly a couple of husbands went the first time) and got our socks blessed off by the loving attitude and appreciation of the inmates. After the first time, you couldn't have stopped any of the ladies from going and no one felt the least bit threatened.

I know I'm somewhat unusual in that I'm that crazy Christian that sometimes picks up hitchhikers, gives homeless men caught stealing my "stuff" a sandwich and some clothes, and doesn't think twice about worrying I'll get hurt if I go serve at a homeless shelter. So I was saddened to see that issue come up in this book.

But basically this story will challenge you to step out where God is calling you and put aside whatever is keeping you from taking that step towards real and meaningful service to the kingdom. Give it a try.

"Sometimes you have to go a little bit crazy to find the life you were meant to live."

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