Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir Of Work, Doubt, Discernment, And Moments Of Grace

Overview

"Nora Gallagher's story of a woman at a crossroads, discerning what to do and how to live after her brother's death, is a continuation of the spiritual journey she chronicled in her acclaimed book, Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith." "When her beloved brother, Kit, dies, Gallagher finds her own life no longer makes sense. Stretched between meetings, always ten minutes late, increasingly drained of surprise and humor, Gallagher realizes she's lost more than her brother. She's lost her "own wild life," and a sense of the sacred in the
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Overview

"Nora Gallagher's story of a woman at a crossroads, discerning what to do and how to live after her brother's death, is a continuation of the spiritual journey she chronicled in her acclaimed book, Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith." "When her beloved brother, Kit, dies, Gallagher finds her own life no longer makes sense. Stretched between meetings, always ten minutes late, increasingly drained of surprise and humor, Gallagher realizes she's lost more than her brother. She's lost her "own wild life," and a sense of the sacred in the world." "Gallagher sets out to find "a new way to spend" herself. Practicing Resurrection describes the often unsettling, sometimes comic, and finally redemptive process of discovery as Gallagher discerns a possible call to the ministry, and explores her marriage, her work as a writer, and the natural world. It extends to the full meaning of life after death as Gallagher finds that experiences of "resurrection" are not believing "six impossible things before breakfast." The surprising end portrays a vision of ministry redefined and a marriage honestly renewed." An account of the exploration of a vocation and of new life after loss, this memoir will inform and inspire anyone trying to discern the signs of a "call" to what might be a deeper purpose, and how to act on it.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When Gallagher's beloved older brother died of cancer, grief struck intensely: "I would be watering the garden or opening an envelope and Kit's death would spring on me completely new and jolting, as if I'd been hit hard from behind with no warning, and I then would fold up, like a fan." Her work at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, which she portrayed so passionately in her 1998 memoir, Things Seen and Unseen, now seemed hollow: "I felt an urgency to reclaim the holy in my life, to find a new way to spend myself." Beginning in 1995 where the earlier book left off, Gallagher describes the three-year process she went through to discern whether to become a priest. While involved in making this decision, she and other church leaders were also wrestling with questions that could split the parish: should their gay rector divulge his sexual orientation? Should he perform same-sex weddings? Meanwhile, Gallagher's husband was repeatedly expressing distaste for her heavy involvement at church. In spite of continued affirmation from church friends and diocesan officials, Gallagher began to wonder if her true calling was to writing, despite her persistent attraction to priesthood. Skillfully interweaving multiple themes, Gallagher maintains suspense right up to the epilogue, where various "resurrections" are revealed. With a poet's ear for language and a novelist's eye for essential detail, Gallagher offers a compelling story of her journey toward "a wholeness bought at the cost of suffering." (Mar. 25) Forecast: Gallagher's first book made the L.A. Times bestseller list and was blurbed by luminaries such as Marcus Borg and Annie Dillard. This has the potential to be a word-of-mouth favorite and a strong backlist title in the growing field of the spiritual memoir. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Now an Episcopal priest, Gallagher continues her spiritual memoir, begun in Things Seen and Unseen, where she described the disarray of contemporary life in the context of the church's calendar. Gallagher depicts her increasing stress as she rushes to and from meetings, devotes her energy to her ailing brother, Kit, and loses her sense of self. When Kit dies she realizes she has lost not only her brother but also her spirituality, and she takes steps to reclaim the "holy" in her life. As a spiritual seeker, she begins walking the path to the Episcopal priesthood. Her search is explored in the trials of marriage, writing, and discerning the signs of the call to a deeper purpose. Gallagher takes the reader through her first year's ministry study program and her encounters with St. Columbia's rector, Al Smith. The epilog fills in the gaps of this impressionistic book, bringing the reader up-to-date in Gallagher's life as a priest. For libraries serving seminary students and those who enjoyed her previous memoir.-L. Kriz, West Des Moines P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A call to the Episcopalian priesthood initiates a period of grieving and a test of vocation. Still a member of Trinity Episcopal, the Santa Barbara parish she wrote about so affectingly in Things Seen and Unseen (1998), Gallagher felt drawn to the ministry. Her brother Kit had recently died in New Mexico after a long illness, and she ponders the meaning of his life and death while also describing the yearlong process of "discernment," during which a person feeling the call to ministry is considered by a select group of church members. Confronting the Christian faith’s most daunting and fundamental question, life after death, she was comforted by the notion that resurrection is about using the death of a loved one, and of Jesus, as a way of making a new life for ourselves as well, of "practicing resurrection." By embracing their lives, and life itself, we can come to a sacred place. But before the author reached this place, where she gained insights into her vocation, she had to deal with changes in her parish and conflicts in her marriage and career. The vestry and congregation accepted a gay rector and decided to celebrate gay unions; her agnostic husband questioned her decision to be a priest; and she was troubled by the conflict between the bureaucratic demands of running a parish and the life of the spirit. Though of necessity more self-absorbed than in her previous work, Gallagher firmly places her experiences within the life of her church. She also describes the testing she underwent, as the church hierarchy assessed her spiritual, intellectual, and psychological fitness for the ministry. As the process neared its end, she had doubts of her own, not about faith but about fulfillingher other vocation as a writer in a busy ministry. In Gallagher’s inspiring account, faith challenges and confuses as well as consoles.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375405945
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/18/2003
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Nora Gallagher’s best-selling memoir, Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith, received outstand-

ing reviews. Her essays, book reviews, and journalism have appeared in many publications, including

the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, DoubleTake, Time, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Village Voice, and Mother Jones. She is also the editor of the award-winning Patagonia: Notes from the Field,

a collection of literary essays on the outdoors. She and her husband live in Santa Barbara, California.

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Read an Excerpt

Nora Gallagher’s compelling story of a woman at a crossroads, discerning what to do and how to live after her brother’s death, is a continuation of the spiritual journey she chronicled in her acclaimed book, Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith.
When her beloved brother, Kit, dies, Gallagher finds her own life no longer makes sense. Stretched between meetings, always ten minutes late, increasingly drained of surprise and humor, Gallagher realizes she’s lost more than her brother. She’s lost her “own wild life,” and a sense of the sacred in the world.
Gallagher sets out to find “a new way to spend” herself. Practicing Resurrection describes the often un-
settling, sometimes comic, and finally redemptive process of discovery as Gallagher discerns a possible call to the ministry, and explores her marriage, her work as a writer, and the natural world. It extends to the full meaning of life after a death as Gallagher finds that experiences of “resurrection” are not believing “six impossible things before breakfast.” The surprising end portrays a vision of ministry redefined and a marriage honestly renewed.
A beautiful and often harrowing account of the exploration of a vocation and of new life after loss, this powerful memoir will inform and inspire anyone trying to discern the signs of a “call” to what might be a deeper purpose, and how to act on it.

Author Biography:

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2008

    A reviewer

    Written from her heart, this book peels back the layers of life we all acquire, leaving us a glimpse of Nora's genuine life. It's not always pretty but her willingness to share the unfolding of her 'self' is so meaningful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2003

    Discerning God's Call

    The Review from the Library Journal is wrong. Ms. Gallagher is indeed not an Episcopal priest, which is the whole point of her story. She struggles with vocation and call in the midst of life crises, and acurately describes the process of vocational discernment in the Episcopal Church. This is a memoir of a continually deepening spiritual life. Great for people who want to read honest accounts of church life and spirtuality.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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