In this time of social distancing when I can’t be in church or hang out with friends as much as I’d like, I’ve been spending more time reading. On Sunday mornings my family gathers around our kitchen table to read the Bible and a contemporary edition of John Bunyan’s classic allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress. Before bed, I turn to either Andrew Murray’s 19th century devotional on prayer (loaned to me by a friend) or to author Maggie Wallem Rowe’s brand new devotional This Life We Share (NavPress, 2020).
Some wisdom comes only through suffering. Many of us would rather bury pain, to lock it up somewhere dark and deep where we hope it won’t be able to hurt us anymore. And then, there are writers. Whether from a desire to make sense of an experience or to say, “See? You are not alone,” writers often feel duty-bound to type out life’s hardest moments and bind them between the pages of a book.
When my 18-year-old son recently had his wisdom teeth removed, I joked that this was his rite of passage. “Some people fast on mountains or get covered in fire ants,” I said, recalling documentaries I’ve seen about how other cultures initiate adolescents into the world of adults. “We take out wisdom teeth.” For most in our contemporary, Western culture, there is no rite of passage between youth and young adulthood. Getting a driver’s license might count, or going to college. But what if parents intentionally set out to create a series of challenges and experiences to not only mark but prepare young people for this significant passage? That’s what author Beth Bruno did with her 12-year-old daughter, Ella, a journey she chronicles in her new memoir, A Voice Becoming, a Yearlong Mother-Daughter journey into Passionate, Purposed Living (Faith Words, 2018).