faith does not grow out of perfect moments, but imperfect ones

Status: Bookseller Picks

"Dandelions, like humans, don't always have a strategic growth plan."

Picking Dandelions 

 

In Sara Cunningham’s latest book, each chapter begins with a fact about the pesky weed as the author effortlessly uses them as a metaphor for a life of ongoing transformation.

 

Readers will find an exuberant mix of passion, insight, and humor wound up in a narrative spiced with stories, diatribes, laughter, tears, and what at times seems far too much self-deprecating humor.  However her real genius lies in capturing the indescribable, revealing how faith does not grow out of perfect moments, but imperfect ones. . .

 

Cunningham uses down-to-earth metaphors of growth and renewal, planting and reaping, flowers and weeds mixed with stories from her days of  her conservative childhood as  the daughter of a Baptist minister to her current roles as a public school teacher and mother. Along the way she recognizes that faith isn't a "one and done" event to be marked on the calendar, but involves a lifetime of growing changing and growing some more. Her journey to and through this understanding is full of imagery that challenges readers to examine their own spiritual journey as well.

 

The narrative begins with a childhood filled with jumping from rock to rock to avoid the lava in the yard, competitiveness for bragging rights at bible school games, eraser dust thievery, WWJD bracelets, voicing her opinion during "grown-up" meetings,  pilgrim shirt debacles, and playground confrontations for being audacious enough to wear pants to a Christian school. Ramona Quimby never had this much fun.

 

The Book turns more serious as the author describes going to Ground Zero within days of the attacks on the Twin Towers, "I'm convinced God was there somewhere too, browsing about the tents and the conversations, reuniting with people he had not talked to in ages and lapping up quality time with others before the moment passed and our to-do lists invited us back into oblivion, to routine tasks like picking up dry cleaning and washing our cars. But for the moment, in the skeleton of life left in the tower rubble, everyone had the time to reflect about life. We had, as a generation, been detached from the comfort of our past in just one day. And now we were drifting, fallen seeds learning to grow in even life's hardest soil."

 

Cunningham describes how she outgrew laissez-faire Christianity, and began moving into mature faith, because in the end the Christian life is about, becoming the person you were created to be, not the person the worlds troubles and toils try to shape you into.

 

What does it mean to change? Does it matter if your faith is stale? How do you go about dealing with spiritual weeds? The author pointedly asks asks these questions of herself with beauty and clarity, all while somehow never getting preachy at the rest of us who may not have yet had the boldness to ask these questions of ourselves.

 

"I had been faithfully weeding for a while, attacking my flaws left and right, knowing that they must die, but I had no idea how to grow a healthier, fuller life in the extra space I was creating. I needed a blueprint, the layout of a master."

 

In the end this is a memoir of a conversion and a realization that live as a follower of Jesus is to recognize life is a constant growth process. It is a great read for anyone wishing to explore spiritual things but unwilling to accept status quo faith.

Picking Dandelions  

Comments
by cathiec on ‎03-29-2010 02:52 PM

Sarah, thanks for the beautiful conversation and message.  Can't tell you how much the adage "when the student is ready the teacher will come" meant when I picked up your books.  Much gratitude and appreciation. 

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