Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope

There's really nothing like Catholic spiritual writing. And I mean that not just because of the greatness contained therein, but also in just the plain variety that has been written. I guess that's what happens when you have over two thousand years of great minds writing about the same topic in thousands of different ways. No one has an excuse that there has never been something written to which they can relate.

The real great masters of spiritual writing, you know, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis de Sales, etc. really appeal and speak to everyone; everyone just hasn't yet given them a fair shot.

I never fail to be surprised that writings from such a long time ago can have such a piercing impact upon my life and heart today. But I also am periodically in the mood for something written in a contemporary spiritual light. We're living in a crazy society today, and it seems a singular time to be applying objective truths and living according to a "religion". Plus, its refreshing to know there are others out there seriously living their faith. Living it through highs and lows of spiritual emotion and feeling, through difficult times in life, and just living in today's toxic culture.

So thats my long by-way of an introduction to Amy Welborn's spiritual memoir of sorts I Wish You Were Here: Travels Through Loss and Hope. Amy puts into words her honest experience of grief after the sudden death of her husband. A few months after her husband's death she daringly takes her three youngest children on a trip to Sicily and describes the adventures of travelling great distances geographically while never leaving behind the difficulty of living without someone you love. Somehow Amy makes this a beautiful read, not simply by describing her pain and all the heart-wrenching difficulties that come after losing a spouse, but in documenting the times when grace pokes its way through the seeming darkness. She writes with a sense of humor and a great honesty that makes this such an approachable read for anyone struggling, not just those with a significant loss.

I think this is the best contemporary book of spiritual writings since Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, (and mercifully it has far fewer uses of  "dashes" within its prose). (Although, for the record I've yet to get to Heather King's book which I mean to read as soon as the mood strikes.) Amy is a great writer who has a gift for describing spiritual challenges and realities in a straightforward and honest way that is truly relatable. No spiritual journey or acceptance of the loss of a dear husband happens in a straight line. There are no miraculous epiphanies that reveal the answers Amy wants or feels she needs, there are many times of doubt, and there are bouts with her own emotions that overwhelm her faith. All of which happen to some degree to each of us at some point when we encounter the difficult, painful, and unexplainable in our spiritual journeys. This book is really a must read because it details so beautifully the interaction of the difficult with the small graces that we often let slip by.

Anyone else read it yet?

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