“After decades of living on the edge, Heather King settled into sobriety, marriage, and a financially lucrative but unfulfilling career as an upwardly mobile lawyer.” Amazon calls her book, Redeemed, “An unforgettable, fervent, darkly funny tale of an ongoing, stumbling conversion.” Join us as we read, discuss, and share our thoughts about it in our Fall, 2016 Wisdom Seekers Book Club!
By Sister Mary Core, OSB
CHAPTER 17 (The Ragtag Lent and Advent Group)
In this chapter King shares her experience with a ragtag prayer and scripture discussion group and the recovering alcoholic priest, Father Terry, who leads the group.
Did King’s sharing her experience of Fr. Terry and the prayer group say anything to you regarding the need for a support group? Who are your “supports”?
What did you think of King’s very short prayer, “Bless them; change me.” ?
“…there’s a danger in thinking God’s will is to suffer, to martyr ourselves: as Terry points out from time to time during Lent, Christ had a rich, full life—and then three really bad days.” What is your take on these lines?
“I enjoy traveling this journey of inner darkness with a group, and Lent generates myriad other interesting topics—the temptation in the desert, the permutations of fasting.” Does this sentence say anything to you about King’s personality?
King describes the room at St. Basil’s where they meet during Advent and Lent: “… we started converging on a back room in the rectory at St. Basil’s, which is windowless and, but for the touched-up portraits of mostly deceased (and what appear to be at least 80 percent homosexual) priests, feels like a dentist’s office. Someone’s always late, someone’s usually too loud, or goes on too long, or not long enough, or says something that doesn’t make sense. Terry repeats himself, we repeat ourselves, sometimes we’re uninspired or restless. We have cookies during Advent, and orange juice during Lent.”
What is your reaction to this description?
Clearly, King and the group who meet with Fr. Terry share both the ups and downs of their lives. What seems to be the point of this chapter? What in the chapter struck you?
Chapter 18 (Crazy, Depressed, Obsessed, and Accepting Brokenness As the Way to God)
The author writes near the beginning of this chapter, “I’m beginning to see that the whole of Christ’s teachings can be read, or are perhaps most properly read, psychically: as a call to come awake. … Being awake, in other words, really means being awake to my motives, actions, thoughts: how they lead me astray, how they keep me stuck, how I often like them to keep me stuck.”
St. Peter in one of his letters also wrote about staying awake.
What do you think of King’s idea that Jesus’ teachings are really a call to be awake?
What do you think of King’s rich friend, Paul?
“What unimaginable freedom might I enjoy if I ceased thinking of myself as congenitally damaged and defective? … What if I could just pick up my mat, like the paralytic Jesus cured—and walk?”
Have you ever gotten into a state of mind and thought so little of yourself?
Have you allowed Jesus to cure you as he cured the paralytic?
King says, “My sins themselves are a part of this universe, with all its darkness and all its light, all its pain and all its joy. When it comes to others, I have to be willing to let go of all notion of presuming to know how another person thinks, what he or she has suffered, is driven by, struggles with, has or has not overcome.”
King concludes the chapter talking about growing up, the point of no return and her brokenness.
She ends by saying “So let me at least keep going—just in case something else turns up. Or in case I can somehow help already, by offering myself up exactly as I am.”
What is she getting at here?