Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Weepy reader

It happened.

A book finally made me cry.

I mean, I think this has sort of happened before. I came across a Little Golden Book in a drugstore once that got me on the verge of tears, and if I had let it I could have dropped a tear onto the page which I would have then had to purchase.

Which I did anyway.

Three copies.

One for niece and nephew, children of one brother.

One for nephew, child of another brother.

And one for me -- duh.

The basic plot was animals in a barn telling the story of how they remembered Jesus' birth. And they were like, magical animals, because their owners lived in modern day, but the animals still remembered the ancient story as if they were there.

Just tell me you wouldn't get misty right there in Rite Aid.

It was so sweet and gently powerful that I couldn't not put it in the hands of my niechews.

So there were almost-book-tears once.

Welllll, and now that I think about it, Kelly Corrigan's The Middle Place made me cry, I think.

But this crying as the result of reading a book recently, it was different, OK?

Thanks to Marisa de los Santos' gorgeous and wise prose, tears were a-free flowing as I finished off the final chapters of her book and licked my reading chops, more than satisfied with my literary meal.

In de los Santos' Belong to Me (the sequel to Love Walked In), things (almost) end with an explosion.

Feelings blow up -- anger, confusion, grief. Things become not what people thought or expected or wanted in their lives.

"No house is big enough to hold us, with all of our tensions, all our wariness and histories," she writes.

This terribly gifted writer does a beautiful job of weaving together several lives in her almost-400 page book, and entwines them in a way that leaves each of them hanging in their own private but ultimately shared balance.

But only for a moment.

Because -- and this is where my tears started to appear -- then she ends everything with a baptism.

[Sorry not sorry for the spoiler alert. (You should still totally read the book).]

Churches like to argue about whether baptism should occur with infants or adults, but here's what I see: it's new life no matter what. It's an ability to rise again, a new chance that is gifted to us, not earned. We can't do anything but let the water fall over us and wash us clean.

When I get really selfish, and feisty, and grumpy and ugly and dig my heels into the crusty ground, I am not consumed by all this.

We may only be baptized with water once, but His mercies are new every morning.

God holds these lives of ours, not us. He's the only one who can truly erase pride, and anger and hurt and all the other muck.


"Yes, pain is abominable, a nightmare," writes de los Santos. "But pain reveals, when we've had to throw all else overboard, what is left in our personal sinking boat."

Thanks to people in my life who have patiently seen me through my (not always pretty) growing pains over the years, I didn't lose anyone to the raging sea. They're all still present in my boat. Hallelujah.

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