Love & Salt: A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters

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Overview

When Amy Andrews and Jessica Mesman Griffith met in a creative writing class in graduate school, they both confessed to writing about God. They bonded one night while reading the Book of Ruth and came to truly understand the unlikely friendship of Ruth and Naomi. In these two Old Testament women, they witnessed a beautiful spiritual friendship and a way of walking with one another toward God.

But how could they travel this path together when they would be separated by distance ...

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Love & Salt: A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters

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Overview

When Amy Andrews and Jessica Mesman Griffith met in a creative writing class in graduate school, they both confessed to writing about God. They bonded one night while reading the Book of Ruth and came to truly understand the unlikely friendship of Ruth and Naomi. In these two Old Testament women, they witnessed a beautiful spiritual friendship and a way of walking with one another toward God.

But how could they travel this path together when they would be separated by distance and time and leading busy lives as they established marriages and careers? They decided to write letters to each other—at first, for each day of Lent, but those days extended into years. Their letters became a memoir in real time and reveal deeply personal and profound accounts of conversion, motherhood, and crushing tragedy; through it all, their faith and friendship sustained them.

Told through the timeless medium of letters—in prose that is raw and intimate, humorous and poetic—Love & Salt is at its core the emotional struggle of how one spiritual friendship is formed and tested in tragedy, tempered and proven in hope.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Combining a modern sensibility with ancient spiritual wisdom, Love and Salt vividly demonstrates how two friends can become companions on the road to God."
--The 2014 Christopher Awards

"There's so much to love here: two articulate women who are not afraid to share their doubts and flaws as well as their joys and discoveries. It's not that much of a stretch to call this something like an epistolary novel: you'll get involved in their lives. You'll wonder how the story is going to turn out. You'll encounter love and loss, crises and triumphs, but throughout it hear these moving, honest voices—hungry for God yet vulnerable, wise, and true to one another."
--Gregory Wolfe, publisher of IMAGE

“I want to shove this book into the hands of everyone with a skewed, incomplete vision of what it means to live a faithful Christian life ... Here is a testimony to what the life of faith is really like. It is messy. It is lovely. It is heartbreaking. It is joyful. It is paradox.It is true.”
- Ellen Painter Dollar, No Easy Choice

“Their letter-writing takes on that tone common to those of us who have read the exchanges between C.S. Lewis and Sheldon Vanauken. Intimate missives about God and doubt. Imploring questions about the mysteries of life and the certainty of death.”
- Karen Spears Zacharias, Patheos

 “Love & Salt is an achingly beautiful new book … each [letter] a deep soul dive that leaves you savoring, while yearning for the next – revealing an exquisite, honest, heart-breaking and ultimately hopeful portrait of two lives deeply lived, contemplated, shared, and redeemed in the context of the search for God.”
- Debra Arca, Managing Editor Patheos

 “Without giving too much away, I can safely tell you that this book is life-changing… The reading is so enjoyable, I stayed up far past my bedtime, enraptured by the letters.”
- Laura Booz, Blogger Behave, Ten Million Miles

“The first word that comes to mind in describing Jess and Amy’s letters to each other is luxurious … the authors held each day up like a prism to examine for its various light and dark effects … They also chronicle the aesthetic evolution of two very gifted writers.”
- Elizabeth Duffy, The Constant Convert

 "As I choose my own Lenten practice, I know I will be accompanied by... the articulate and brave writers, Amy and Jessica, of Love and Salt."
- Elizabeth Nordquist, A Musing Amma

“This book is sincere in the most beautiful expression of that word. You read a part of the two women’s souls… feel yourself wrenched along lives filled with questions… I have no doubt that, a year from now, I will still be raving about this book. It is one of the best examples of 'spiritual memoir' I have ever read, told in conversation and by real people … Highly, highly, HIGHLY recommended.”
- Sarah Reinhard, The Snoring Scholar



"It is hard not to treat this book, so uncommonly honest, almost with reverence, for within its pages lies such personal and raw emotion that treating it with anything less would feel wrong."
--Catholic News Service



"Love and Salt is full of sacramental imagination. Amy Andrews and Jessica Mesman Griffith render things like a walk through a graveyard, a dream about an elevator, and a Neil Young song into something else entirely…These writers are practiced at seeing Catholicly: casting a sacramental glance at the world." 
--The Christian Century

From The Critics
"There's so much to love here: two articulate women who are not afraid to share their doubts and flaws as well as their joys and discoveries. It's not that much of a stretch to call this something like an epistolary novel: you'll get involved in their lives. You'll wonder how the story is going to turn out. You'll encounter love and loss, crises and triumphs, but throughout it hear these moving, honest voices—hungry for God yet vulnerable, wise, and true to one another."
--Gregory Wolfe, publisher of IMAGE

“I want to shove this book into the hands of everyone with a skewed, incomplete vision of what it means to live a faithful Christian life ... Here is a testimony to what the life of faith is really like. It is messy. It is lovely. It is heartbreaking. It is joyful. It is paradox.It is true.”—Ellen Painter Dollar, No Easy Choice

“Their letter-writing takes on that tone common to those of us who have read the exchanges between C.S. Lewis and Sheldon Vanauken. Intimate missives about God and doubt. Imploring questions about the mysteries of life and the certainty of death.”—Karen Spears Zacharias, Patheos

 “Love & Salt is an achingly beautiful new book … each [letter] a deep soul dive that leaves you savoring, while yearning for the next – revealing an exquisite, honest, heart-breaking and ultimately hopeful portrait of two lives deeply lived, contemplated, shared, and redeemed in the context of the search for God.”—Debra Arca, Managing Editor Patheos

 “Without giving too much away, I can safely tell you that this book is life-changing… The reading is so enjoyable, I stayed up far past my bedtime, enraptured by the letters.”
—Laura Booz, Blogger Behave, Ten Million Miles

“The first word that comes to mind in describing Jess and Amy’s letters to each other is luxurious … the authors held each day up like a prism to examine for its various light and dark effects … They also chronicle the aesthetic evolution of two very gifted writers.”—Elizabeth Duffy, The Constant Convert

 "As I choose my own Lenten practice, I know I will be accompanied by... the articulate and brave writers, Amy and Jessica, of Love and Salt."—Elizabeth Nordquist, A Musing Amma

“This book is sincere in the most beautiful expression of that word. You read a part of the two women’s souls… feel yourself wrenched along lives filled with questions… I have no doubt that, a year from now, I will still be raving about this book. It is one of the best examples of 'spiritual memoir' I have ever read, told in conversation and by real people … Highly, highly, HIGHLY recommended.”—Sarah Reinhard, The Snoring Scholar

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780829438314
  • Publisher: Loyola Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2013
  • Pages: 324
  • Sales rank: 360,610
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Andrews is a recipient of the Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction and teaches mathematics at Northwestern University. She lives in Evanston with her husband and two children.

Jessica Mesman Griffith's writing has appeared in many publications, including Image and Elle, and has been noted in Best American Essays. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children.

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Table of Contents

Prelude ix

I Conversion 1

Lent 2005 3

Easter 2005 95

II New Life 107

Ordinary Time 2005 109

Lent 2006 165

III Loss 207

Notes for Letters Never Sent: Jess 209

Notes for Letters Never Sent: Amy 221

Ordinary Time 2006 235

IV Providence 267

Lent 2007 269

Easter 2007 321

V Coda 347

Ordinary Time 2007 349

Bibliography 361

About the Authors 368

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Spiritual friendship Love & Salt consists of letters writte

    Spiritual friendship
    Love & Salt consists of letters written by two young women between February 9, 2005 (Ash Wednesday) and November 2007. Their relationship began at a writing workshop at the end of graduate school when they discovered that both “wrote about God.” By the end of the term, the two had identified a mutual interest in the Old Testament Book of Ruth and in wider exploration of religion and the Catholic faith. Before leaving for different parts of the country, they pledged to write to each other every day during Lent of 2005, a period in which Amy Andrews was preparing to convert to Catholicism with Jessica Mesman as her sponsor.

    Though both women wrote of their families and jobs, most of the letters revolved around spirituality, often related to what they were reading. As the extensive bibliography indicates, they favored authors as diverse as Teresa of Avila; Georg Wilhelm Fredrich Hegel, the 19th century German philosopher; Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger; Thomas Merton; Marilynne Robinson; and Sylvia Plath. They also referred to popular music and movies.

    The thing to remember is that this is a “spiritual friendship in letters.” Though the letters are presented in chronological order, they can be seen as a series of reflections, any of which could stand alone for individual or group use.

    There is one section I strongly recommend to anyone who might be called upon to minister to parents suffering through miscarriage, stillbirth, or death of a premature infant. In brief, Jessica becomes pregnant soon after her marriage, and Amy conceives several months later. Jessica’s daughter, Charlotte, and Amy’s Clare will be great friends, the women believe, as they share their excitement, and concern over impending parenthood. Clare is stillborn. The letters (some not sent) are wrenching. This period is about halfway through the book, and Clare is an integral part of the remaining conversations—her life is always to be remembered

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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