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No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. C. S. Lewis
A moment, a slight hesitation, my hand resting on the knob - and then resolutely crossing the threshold into the funky ambiance of the quiet cafe, I stand nervously, stomping snow from my black suede boots and trying to shrug off the chill. Winter seems to enjoy tormenting Chicago.
I impulsively decided on this little indulgence after an ironic experience in an eclectic bookshop. Perusing colorful storylines on the backs of book jackets, I realized that none of them could possibly be as dramatic as my life to date. Then sadly, I also realized I could never find the ending of my story from the safety of an armchair.
The waiter, who has the look of one who lives in a sparsely furnished studio apartment thick with art paraphernalia, and who reluctantly mingles with commoners like me, asks that terrifying question: "Table for one?" I nod silently, mildly surprised by the ease with which I do it. Perhaps my newfound courage is due to the season's first coat of snow blanketing the streets and quieting my world for a moment.
So here I am sipping my buttery glass of wine, thinking I am brave andnoble. I open my new book, my shield protecting me from this newly imposed condition - eating alone in public. As a woman who had painstakingly avoided such an engagement in the past, I try to get lost in a new fictional world. My mind wanders, but book, wine, the eclectic atmosphere - all of it steadies me as I toe the wire of my comfort zone.
I have always been more comfortable with daredevil acts than with the everyday nuances of life. Let me jump out of a plane, speak in front of a roomful of strangers, even trek across Siberia. These were the kinds of experiences that defined my life - until now. Now the thought of lounging in public by myself without the faintest possibility of meeting someone seems daunting.
But I have no one to meet. I am a stranger here, and most of the time I take comfort in the anonymity. I grew up in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of strange cities, sights, and smells. Being in the unknown is more familiar than the broken reality I have left behind.
Every new corner, coffee house, and boutique is the sweetest intimacy for my bruised soul. Simple interactions with shopkeepers and neighbors have sustained me and sheltered me from real life. Here I am free from the sympathetic looks of acquaintances, from run-ins with old high school friends that turn awkward when the curious person asks, "So what's new with you?"
The innocence of that question assumes that we all faithfully move on in predictable normalcy - marriage, job, kids. Not me. I am somehow on the other side of the looking glass, a voyeur into life. But that's not quite accurate either. I am living, but it's a life that doesn't seem real.
I hardly recognize myself. This person I look at through the mirror is fragile, yet I feel solid inside. Some strange substance is filling up my soul, as if the ache inside me is taking up all the space where my heart should be. Daily proof that I am being changed on a biological level, as if my very DNA were being rewritten; it is the pain that is so much more than pain. Not just a feeling or an emotion that ebbs and flows, it is tangible. Strong, yet soft. Heavy, yet malleable. Something like gold, refined by suffering. I now understand how the term "heart of gold" could evolve into such a compliment. It's difficult not to appear a saint when you wear a cross of suffering in your eyes and when your compassion is so easily tapped into. From afar, I'm sure it seems like there is a perpetual halo around me. I feel like a stranger could brush me on the street and a chunk of my soul would break off. I wonder if I will hear the wind whistle through the holes. Like a skeleton, I teeter down the street on dry bones.
* * *
Most days it feels as if the world is whirling around me and I am standing still. In slow motion I watch the colors blur; people and faces all become a massive wash. Time crawls on, minute by minute, as sheer exhaustion and fear grip my insides. I am trapped within the whirlwind and have no idea when it will stop. Not long ago I had been full of dreams, when the world was friendly and I was raring for adventure and responsibility. Now I long for any reason to get off this dizzying reality.
Excerpted from Pieces of Glass by Sarah Kay Copyright © 2006 by Sarah Kay Ndjerareou . Excerpted by permission.
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Posted January 17, 2012
"Pieces of Glass" brought me to tears, yet author Sarah Kay's experience through tragedy compelled me to examine my own faith and it became so much stronger. I would recommend this book for anyone who's gone through an unexpected loss. It's about learning to live in faith again after a difficult experience that rattles your world, and asks a lot of questions we all have but rarely dare to verbalize.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2006
Give me a break. 'Sarah's journey is raw, emotional, and definitely not happy' says another reviewer. Who's journey is happy? Yes, some people have gone through terrible times,some perhaps 'harder' than others but we all have doubted our faith in God, all questioned why these things happen. The main problem I had with this book is that the author seemed to relfect how 'SHE' made it through it all on her own, and look how good 'SHE' is. As christians we love to get all warm and fuzzy inside and by revealing how great we are when we have made it through tough times we get those feelings. There are WAY too many books about this out there when we as christians should be more concerned about getting to know our Lord better and how to serve and honor him rather than ourselves.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 19, 2006
I needed this book to finally wrestle with my own emotions and my relationship to God. I'd lost a husband to a brain aneurism and it really shook my faith for a long time. But Sarah went through much of what I did and yet, with reverent anger, placed all her emotions before God and allowed Him to heal her heart. It was refreshing to see all those feelings put on paper--I'd lived a lot of them! I'm sure that for many like me, this book will help them work through their own pain and grief and come out with a greater love for God. Thanks for being so vulnerable, Sarah Kay!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 3, 2006
Posted August 7, 2006
This beautiful piece of writing takes the reality of suffering, loss, and grief, and shows God's compassion and tenderness toward the bereaved, even in the face of doubt. Sarah's journey is raw, emotional, and definitely not happy. She offers no advice or theology to explain away these awful circumstances. Instead she shares how Jesus comforted her even when she was in too much pain to even want the comfort. This book is absolutely wonderful, but will be confusing and uncomfortable for anyone seeking Christian-y cliches or pat resolutions. Thankfully, the peace and healing that Sarah writes about are not contingent upon God 'fixing' the problem. 'Pieces of Glass' is full of real hope and authentic faith.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 21, 2006
Posted August 7, 2006
This is a fantastic book, and anyone who has ever REALLY dealt with pain and grief - and subsequently questioned Jesus, faith, and everything else that used to be familiar - will have their experiences validated. That said, anyone who has never experienced grief and loss - or anyone who has not allowed a loss to drive her to a deeper, more authentic relationship with Jesus - will have a hard time relating to this book. It's messy and it's gritty and it doesn't really 'resolve.' But neither does real grief, and often neither does life. If you need pop-culture-Christian platitudes, this is NOT your book. However, if you are willing to let the mess of life drive you to a place where there is nothing left of you so that God can really get to work, this is a good book to read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 5, 2006
was looking for a good book about greiving the loss of a loved one for a non-christian friend who lost her husband in the war. I wanted to read the book before giving it to her and I was glad I did. The biggest reason I did not like the book was because it hardly dealt with having a relationship with Christ. Why does God allow us to suffer? The story was a sad one but as I felt like the author never really showed very well how God helped her through it, rather how she made it through on her own because of her strong will. Some parts of the book just seem self-indulgent and even silly at its worst the book reads like an eggheaded parody of theology. I will not be recommending this to anyone I know who is grieving and seeking counsel and comfort.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 25, 2006