Last night our famous little Oklahoma book club, Dinner Club With a Reading Problem, gathered for another lively and loving evening. It was my turn to host here at the farm. To add even more fun to the story, the scheduled event fell in the middle of our vacation time with nieces and nephews.
So last night my book club girls descended on us in their usual affectionate ways. They were, as always, armed with delicious edibles and intelligent remarks about the book we were discussing, A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. More importantly, though, they brought compassion, insight, and wisdom. These are gifts we share with each other no matter what the topic; but with a title like A Return to Love that draws so much gritty, sometimes uncomfortable introspection, the gifts are a balm on open wounds.
Have you read this book? It’s brimming with inspirational but also controversial themes. Here I wrote about my first gut reactions to the book. The seven of us who gathered did not agree on it across the board. And because our group is so diverse and we all feel so free to speak our minds, last night I had the chance to see the book in a different light. I learned more about my friends, too, and feel even closer to them now for the learning. Whether we individually “liked” the book or not, one common thread between us was the timeliness of the material. Whatever each of us gained from reading it, whether glowing inspiration or painful personal challenge, seemed to be received at a time we really needed it. And sharing our thoughts and feelings with each other just kind of intensified the experience.
Our fun lasted for several hours, from the heat of rush hour traffic to the moonlit dark of night. We grazed on good food, though perhaps less of it than usual; the summer heat has possibly zapped our appetites. We watched as two of my three resident teens, Sammy and Koston, made fast friends with Tracy’s daughter Lauren and her friend Sophie. They swam and told ghost stories and seemed to bond as well as lifelong friends ever do. We welcomed my third resident sweetie Harley as a guest in our discussion. She is an avid young reader, eager to discuss things in depth, and has a craving to start her own book club. We purchased for quarters and dollars several piles of castoff books out of the trunk of Seri’s minivan. We watched the llama family and tolerated the screaming parrot. Some of us played with frogs and jumped on the trampoline. Some of us most certainly did not.
We shared fears about serious illness and the spider-webbing effects it can have on life. We talked a lot about parental relationships, both abstractly and intimately. My friends had good advice for me, and they cannot know how much I appreciate it. We talked about the human ego, the female tendency to berate ourselves while glorifying others, and the difficult power of taking long hard looks in the mirror. Somehow, probably because we all needed it, the talks kept circling back to the mechanics of surrender. Once you know you should turn something over to God, or faith, or Love, or prayer, however you express that yourself, how do you actually go about doing it? What does surrender look and feel like? What are the dance moves, so to speak? And how powerful is the imagination, after all?
I’ll eventually get around to writing a proper book review, but here are some of the quotes we shared with each other as among our favorites. All are directly quoted from the book and belong to Marianne Williamson:
I love my book club so much. I love every single woman here and miss dearly those who have moved on. I love the community we have built. I love the growth we enjoy. I love the recipes we share. I love our mutual addiction to books and reading. I love that we all get excited when we discover a young woman wanting to start her own book club at school.
The downstairs of our house is still happily littered with crumb-dusted serving plates, stacks of used books, a bowl of grapes, and a few empty glasses. The Apartment is still full of sleeping beauties. The red wicker lawn furniture is draped in damp beach towels and errant socks. At midnight I filled the dishwasher and ran it but didn’t have the heart to clean everything up. As always, the loving vibrations are too irresistible to swipe away so soon. I just want to wrap up in the feeling and find all of my people and wrap them up too. Especially my babies, my girls who are nearly women now. Please pray for them.
Thanks so much for another invaluable night, friends. We have real love among us. I am still trusting that amazing miracles are in store for each of you. At the farm we are enjoying a return to love in so many ways, the biggest being the realization that Love never left us.
All You Need is Love