My friend Judy found the best line to describe our world in Safe passage: How mobility affects people & what international schools should do about it:
“The soul travels by horseback” while our bodies are whisked about on planes, trains, cars, and subways. No wonder we never feel quite integrated.
Reading Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines feels like a book that travels by horseback. It’s good for my soul and even better to be invited (I almost said forced, ha!) to slow down and read it in smaller four chapter pieces throughout this month. Amber takes us through vast portions of her life, but is able to do it in such a way I don’t feel lost in the journey. Instead, my soul feels it has found a traveling companion.
I fear every week I’m going to say the same thing: “Oh my word, this was so beautifully written!” So, please forgive me now and if you want to comment every week, “Oh my word, this is so beautifully written” know we will never tire of you saying it.
The amount of notes and stars and “YESes” I made while I read makes me a bit worried that I won’t be able to say all that I want. I wonder if you feel the same? So instead of being overwhelmed, let’s take a collective breath and slowly exhale, trusting that the Spirit will lead us to say what we need to say (knowing there is always more we can add). For today’s post, I want to share three observations:
- Chapter titles
- Beauty of the language
- Ideas expressed
I am not one who normally pays much attention to chapter titles. I read them, but they tend to wash over me. Titling chapter one Rebel caught my eye. By chapter chapter two seeing Capacity: one and then reading about her heart wrenching decision to terminate the life growing in her, I sensed that the titles were road maps to Amber’s soul. Becoming Kin and A Harness on the Wind were chapters three and four. I’m curious by the end to line them all up for us and see what memories they evoke from these pages.
What stuck you as you read these titles?
Beauty of language
I would like to be more of a poetic person. But when I’ve been likened to Jen Hatmaker on rare occasion and Ann Voskamp never, reality collides with desired perception (anyone else think Danielle and Kim and Patty’s writing for the Grove is so poetic?). I wish I could write like Amber Haines, in a gentle, lilting voice. I wish I could grab a bit of the mystery of God in a phrase that hangs in the air.
What I can do is—at times—recognize it. Enjoy it. And mark it saying “Yes, you’ve said what I felt but didn’t have the words for.” I’ll share a few that stood out to me, knowing there is more! And I’d love to hear what stood out to you.
“God knew my name. He must have been insane, but I went with it. He lavished truth on me. Jesus himself traveled the abyss and through time to meet me on the floor of a dorm room.”
“What I sensed from that church is that perfect love adopts fear. So much hammered doctrine was an effort to control, as if it were our job to uphold the morality standards of Jesus for the world, rather than to be embodied by the actual Spirit of the living God.”
I loved how she started the book off with what we’d notice about her. It made me wonder what I’d first notice about you when we meet.
She had several powerful, locating metaphors. In the introduction she said, “I long for a place to fit in, and sometimes I forget and become desperate for a sense of peace . . . All the striving to regain such feelings of him, even as I create home now as a wife and mother, I know none of it will do to give me peace. Home here really is a mere metaphor, but it’s one that anchors me.” We get it Amber! We’ve even had “Home” as a theme of the week and touched on it again and again.
Amber wrote beautifully of how shame entered her story and lead her to write, “I give up.” As she wrote about her abortion and all that lead to it (both what she believed about herself, her family, and the impact on her siblings), it was so beautifully written I could picture God sitting with us in some bathroom floor in our lives, holding our hair while we vomit from poor choices and sin. From lies we believe and the truth he wants to bathe us in. I know some reading this have had abortions or carry the stories of those near to you. Because it is so hard to talk about, especially in a public forum like this, I just want you to know you are seen by God and by us (even though we don’t know your name). We know you are here and are better for knowing you.
I loved that “the first of many births” she witnessed was her own. I love hearing people share their stories of how they came to faith. If any of you want to share in the comments, that would be great! And all of her writing of Eden, well, she’s speaking my Spiritual Love Language! More later this week :).
Oh my word, I just looked at how long this is. I wanted to also touch on identity shifts (for me page 43), trying to get something from community—be it church, an organization, or team–that it can’t offer (from page 49-50), and the process of maturity going from rules to listening to the spirit. Lest this become a book itself, I’ll stop here.
Obviously, we’ve got a lot to talk over! See you in the comments.
Chapters 5-8 next week.
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