Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lisa Samson's Quaker Summer

“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.”

Sometimes we choose a book because of its cover, or perhaps because we want to be entertained. It's rare when a fiction book has the capacity and the potential to change lives. Lisa Samson's Quaker Summer does exactly that.

Heather Curridge is Everywoman. Everywoman in an upper-middle-class sort of way, that is. She’s got it all, yet she feels discontented and unhappy. Outrageous spending sprees don’t help. Volunteering at her son’s school only stresses her out more. Planning a tennis court in their backyard doesn’t help. She can’t even find a church she likes. Heather feels as though her entire life is in turmoil. Everything is changing all around her and she hardly even knows her own mind.

That is, until the night she and her doctor husband get lost in an unsavory part of town. There they meet Sister Jerusha of the Hotel, a homeless shelter. Heather finds herself inexplicably drawn to the people there.

If that’s not enough to rock Heather’s precariously-balanced world, a car accident brings her to the door of Liza and Anna, two older Quaker sisters who care for her in their home as she recovers from her injuries.

Throughout the rest of the summer, Heather undergoes a transformation of the mind, the spirit, and the “stuff.” She gains clarity and strengthened faith through the relationships she nurtures. Her marriage is nearly in proportion to the amount of money she isn’t spending and the stuff she is getting rid of. She gets to know her son and his heart for ministry.

I identified strongly with the yearnings of Heather’s heart. Who wouldn’t love a woman who says, “I’m living in a puzzle”? She is frustratingly, endearingly human. In a sense, she is me (the wanting to change part, not the rich and spendy part). Striking a balance between her old and new self, her current life and friends—it’s a very real struggle I believe all women face. There’s got to be more to life than this. The good news is, there IS more.

Lisa Samson takes us along on Heather’s wild journey. In doing so, she encourages us to pursue our own faith walk and find our own balance of life, the Gospel, Christ, serving others, and cake.
With several older and wiser peripheral characters, we have the privilege of witnessing Heather's transformation and embracing of the "ministry of presence," and it is good. It is very good.

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