I NOW CALL TO ORDER THE SECOND MEETING OF THE HERMIT CRAB BOOK CLUB.
Our name is derived from the fact that we are too reclusive and cranky to attend real book clubs. So here we are.
Hermit Crab Book Club Rules:
1. Everyone is invited.
2.We will try not to be jerks.
3.We will try to feel inspired rather than guilty, since we’re exhausted.
4. If we’ve only had time to read the Pottery Barn catalog and would prefer to discuss the Aris Table vs. the Montego, by George, we will do so.
Without further Ado…
I don’t know where to start with this incredible book. I think I’m just going to offer three of my favorite passages, ask you a few questions, and then hope you take off and say what you need to say. I can’t wait to hear what you thought of Miss Debbie and Denver and Ron.
In the hallway to the kitchen, we ran into Chef Jim. I asked him if he’d seen Denver that day. “He’s probably sleeping.” “Sleeping!” I blurted. Lazy, I thought. It was already mid-afternoon.
Jim raised an eyebrow. “You don’t know?”
“Well, when Denver heard about Miss Debbie, he told me she had a lot of friends that would be praying for her all day. But he figured she needed someone to pray all night, and he would be the one to do it.”
My eyes widened as he went on. “So he goes outside at midnight, sits down by the dumpster, and prays for Miss Debbie and your family. When I get up and come down here at three in the morning to get breakfast going, he comes in for a cup of coffee and we pray here for her until about four. Then he goes back outside and prays till sunup.”
Ashamed, I realized again how deep grew the roots of my own predjudice, of my arrogant snap judgements of the poor.
I met Sister Bettie before I met Miss Debbie. She ‘aint no nun or nothin’ like that. We call her “Sister” cause she’s a real spiritual woman. I don’t know how old Betty was when I first met her, but right this minute she’s got a crown a’ hair just as white as a cloud on a summer day and twinklin eyes as blue as the sky them clouds go sailin’ in. When she’s talkin to you, she’ll lay a hand on you like she’s known you all her life. Like maybe you was her own child. And even if she keeps her hand there awhile, it don’t bother you none. You just feel happy God saw fit to drop a lady like that into this world.
Sister Bettie lives at the mission, but it’aint cause she don’t have nowhere else to go. Along time back, she lives in a regular neighborhood. But after her husband died, Sister Bettie felt the Lord tuggin’ on her heart, tellin her to spend the rest a her life servin’ the homeless. She sold her home and everything she had except for a itty bitty Toyota truck, and she asked the folks at the Union Gospel Mission could she set up housekeeping down there.
It didn’t take long till most a’ the homeless folks in Fort Worth knowed Sister Bettie. She’d go to restaurants to ask them for leftovers and stores to ask them for socks and blankets and toothpaste and such. Then she’d haul her old bones up and down the nastiest streets, offerin help to men so mean they’d just as soon tear your head off as look at you. That didn’t scare Sister Bettie none because she believed God’s angels camped all around her and wadn’t gonna let nothin bad happen to her. And if it did, she said, that would be God’s will.
She never carried no purse with her, just whatever she had to give out that day and her Bible. After a while, it got so it didn’t matter what Sister Biettie believed about God’s angels: Even the meanest man on the street wouldn’t dare to lay a hand on her, ‘cause he’d get beat down if he did. To this day, that woman could walk naked on the railroad in the hobo jungle at midnight and be as safe as if she was tucked into her own bed.
On Miss Debbie: She just loved ‘em…no strings attached.
She began to rack her brain about ways to bring a little joy into their lives. Her first idea: Beauty Shop Night. Deborah and her best friend, Mary Ellen Davenport, would go to the mission loaded down with make-up kits, hairstyling tools, perfumes, soaps, and every manicure and pedicure accessory ever invented. And the homeless women would come. Deborah and Mary Ellen would comb the lice out of their hair, then wash and style it with blow-dryers and curling tools. If a woman wanted a pedicure, Deborah and Mary Ellen would wash her feet, use pumice stones to scrub away callouses layered on by ill-fitting shoes, and paint her toenails in a feminine shade of red or pink. They did facials and make-overs and gave the women little make-up kits to keep. Sometimes, on these nights, a homeless woman, catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror, would remember what she looked like before her life went off course and begin to cry.
Jesus said “Blessed are the poor.” Did this make you think any differently about that statement? Because I used to think..”Uh-huh, sure they are.” But I’m starting to wonder. Maybe Jesus was serious. Maybe the poor are more blessed. Maybe God wants us to be with them because he wants us to get a chance to share in their blessings, instead of vice versa.
Did this book make you think any differently about what serving the poor might look like? How did the way Ron and Debbie and Miss Bettie served the poor look different than how we typically do? What are the implications for our Monkee Revolution project? We need help deciding what direction to take with it. Did this book give you any feelings or ideas about that?
Also, did this book make you think different about miracles, and how and why they occur here on Earth? Why do you think Denver and Debbie experienced so many miracles?
Your turn, Lovies.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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