Mar 122010
 




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?”

“Know what?”

“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.







Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest


Mar 112010
 

A guest post, from Our Adrianne…

There were many courageous and thoughtful comments posted about faith here recently, and I cannot stop thinking about all that was written. You Monkees never cease to amaze me. Some of us have thriving, fulfilling relationships with a creator or a higher being, and some of us do not. Some of us wrote about our spiritual questions and doubts, and that was comforting for me because I have questions and doubts too. As I’ve mentioned before, I do love Jesus. I love Jesus because I was taught very early on in life that He loved me first. But my faith waxes and wanes. And I am sorry to say that my love for Jesus brings me almost as much anxiety as it brings me comfort and joy, and this anxiety often makes me feel like a Christian outsider. So if the Momastery posts about religion inspire you to skim instead of read or if they make you uncomfortable, please don’t worry. This is your sanctuary, too.

I want to tell you about one of my biggest spiritual struggles. Ladies, I have Bible issues. The Momastery posts that make me squirm are the ones that include Bible verses. I love talking and reading about Jesus, but the minute someone starts quoting the Bible, I tune out.

Just a few weeks ago, I was driving down the road listening to a country music station, and I found myself starting to get teary-eyed. The song playing was one I had never heard before, and I came in at the chorus, which said,

There might be a little dust on the Bible
But don’t let it fool ya about what’s inside
There might be a little dust on the Bible
It’s one of those things that gets sweeter with time

Well, I started thinking about how much I love Jesus and what a sweet song it was, and I started to get weepy. Those who know me well know that this is nothing out of the ordinary. I cry at sad movies, sad songs, happy movies, happy songs, and any time my heart strings are tugged even a wee little bit. Like many of you, I often cry while reading this blog. So there I was, sitting at a red light, working myself up into a good, hard cry and searching the car for clean tissues. I was thinking sheepishly about how long it had been since I had mindfully read my Bible, and it was too many months to count. My Bible was surely coated in dust, just like the song said. The guilt I felt was horrible. Shame on me.

It was a few minutes later that the chorus played again, and I realized I was mistaken about the words to the song. The words weren’t saying dust on the Bible. They were saying dust on the bottle. The song was about booze. Dangit. Figures I’d end up in tears over a song about booze.

After realizing I was wrong about the lyrics to the song, I started thinking about my favorite childhood Bible. It is one of my most treasured possessions. It was mother’s old Bible that she handed down to me. Originally, it was a gift to my parents, given to them on their wedding day by my mother’s Aunt Edna. The inscription is still there, in blurred ink, and I love to read it. What I loved most about that Bible was the illustrations. There were only a few pictures scattered throughout, but I remember each of them because I used to flip through my Bible and gaze at the pictures during long, boring sermons. My favorite was titled, “Jacob’s Dream.” The colors were all sorts of lovely shades of shiny, pale pink and metallic purple that you see in gasoline puddle rainbows.

Although I love all three of my childhood Bibles, I think I love them more for the sake of nostalgia than because of what is written inside. This is hard to admit because again, it makes me feel terribly guilty. And when I feel guilty about something, I try very hard to just stop thinking about it. Guilt makes me maniacal. But the truth is, I am not good at all about reading my Bible. I believe it is holy, and I keep it in a very handy place, but I do not read it very often. At all. This is scary and shameful for me to admit because I know that Jesus wants me to read it. I know that good Christians read it. I feel sure that people who read it sin less than people who don’t. I know people who have been transformed by daily Bible reading. I feel my Bible calling to me sometimes. It’s on the shelf behind me right now, and I’m imagining it with two bulging eyeballs with enormous, incriminating pupils that are following me around the room while a funky version of “tell me whose watching…” plays in the background, just like in those Geico commercials that get on my nerves. My Bible is watching me, and it wants to be read. I just don’t want to do it.

Then I started thinking about why I avoid it. What the hell is wrong with me? (This is a question that I ask myself every single day, approximately every hour.) The truth is that the Bible scares me. The Bible scares me because when I read one of the juicy parts, like one of the Gospels, I feel called upon to change my life. But I really like my life just the way it is. I’m happily married with two healthy children, and we live in a comfortable house. I feel loved by my family and friends, I have a lot of fun and most of the time, I try to be a nice person. Not everything is perfect, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve that are working beautifully. I pray, I bury my face in my husband’s chest, I take my Prozac, I eat, I email Glennon, I have a glass of wine or three, and then I pray and eat some more. I am content, and I don’t want that to change. But when I think about people who are suffering all over the world, I wonder if I should give up this comfortable life, go out in the world, and make a real difference. That might sound fanatical to some people, but when I read the Bible, the teachings of Jesus are an explicit call to live a radically different life than the one I am living. I honestly don’t want a radically different life. I’m thoroughly enjoying this one.

At this moment, I am tempted to just find a fancy, scripty font and type the words, “The End.” I wish I had more to write. I really do. I wish I could tell you that I have devised a plan for reconciling my love for Jesus with my dread of the Bible. But I have no such plan. I wish I could tell you that I prayed about this and was relieved of some of my crippling guilt, but I wasn’t. I wish I could tell you that putting my thoughts to paper inspired me to resolve to just sit down, open my Bible, start reading, and let God do the rest. But that didn’t happen either. My Bible is still sitting behind me on the shelf while another layer of dust settles on it.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest