If you have ever gone to church, ever kept a journal or diary, ever sat on a bench and observed the peculiarities of people, ever thought spiritual questions that maybe you were afraid to speak out loud—you will find something in this book that resonates within you.
Rose Harris, the quintessential church lady of St. Timothy’s, invites us into her life, her family, her faith and narrates a wonderful story through the characters in her journal. Somehow we know Rose and her friends from somewhere in our lives.
Rose and the characters in her journal reflect the joys and struggles of our own ups and downs with life.
We walk our own long-term grief with Rose as she talks to her husband Charlie who has been dead for years. We know what it is to miss someone so much that we can still feel that presence in our lives long after they are dead and buried.
We laugh out loud at the on-going saga of the people populating the membership of St. Timothy’s. What is it with their tendency to blame it all on the pastor? What a motley crew they are! And, oh how many of them we have met before—the gossipers, the arrogant pious ones, those who are just there for appearance sake, the ones who swallow all that faith stuff hook-line-sinker, the doubters who will never believe any of it. We know these people—we are these people.
We wrinkle our brows at the dysfunction of Rose’s own family. A daughter who never bought into Rose’s devout beliefs and a granddaughter whose life reflects Rose’s spirit though her lifestyle itself is so twenty-first century. A son who struggles with divorce and alcoholism but who unfailingly shows up for Rose.
And then there are the vagabond characters who drop in out of nowhere. Garfield and Mindy do not fit within the boundaries that many of us set for people in our lives. Somehow these kinds of folks find their way nonetheless. And their presence certainly makes our lives more entertaining.
Perhaps the most unique part of this book is its organization. Rose’s journal entries are written every Sunday, Sunday by Sunday, and include her reflections on the lectionary texts and Pastor Sauer’s sermon for the day. There is, then, a devotional sense that ties all the stories and people together into God’s great story. And, ultimately, that is what binds the disparate lives and actions into one sweeping read. Not just for them, but also for us—their stories, God’s story, and our stories—you will find something in this book that resonates within you.
Associate Dean, Adjunct Professor of New Testament
Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, South Carolina