“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
This week’s discussion brings us to the end of our book! Most of the group agree that they have noticed a shift in the way King looks at life since we met her in the beginning pages of her memoir.
Chapter 19 (Working sober, working hard … a worker just like everybody else)
In this chapter, King shares the experience of her work as an estate title examiner as “a newly sober 34-year old – with a law degree – who had never worked other than as a waitress. It was the first ‘real’ job I’d ever had.”
King speaks of the many fears she felt during her work in this new way of life: feelings of guilt, adjusting to being sober, fear of falling back into drinking, learning how to relate to other people, doing the job well. What are your reactions to what she shares?
“I had so little sense of myself I was afraid if I slowed down I might simply disappear. In that weighty new world of responsible jobs, and property ownership, I was a wraith, insubstantial as dust, a rootless plant ready to topple in the slightest wind.”
What does this tell you about King’s self-concept? How would you have felt, if your life experience had been somewhat like King’s?
How was the job of title examiner, in many ways, exactly the job she needed at the time?
“Instead of looking to other people for validation, I could find it inside myself. Instead of holing myself up and off, I could take part. Instead of just working at some random job because I was too beaten down and narcotized to do what I longed for in the deepest part of my soul, I could count myself in and do work that I loved, work that made me feel alive and connected and whole, work that was not a prison sentence, but a kind of prayer.”
How do these lines connect with the title of the book, Redeemed ?
What thoughts, in general do you have about this chapter?
Chapter 20 (Aging, stumbling through life, and waiting … just waiting)
As King writes about time and aging, and how we all struggle with both, she concludes time is a mystery. A mystery she has, until now, seen as an enemy. “But what if time were a friend, a tool, a gift? A gift in which for life to unfold, for things to ripen: friendships, situations, ideas?”
What do you think about her new concept of time?
“When I started this book I thought I’d arrived somewhere, but now I realize I’ve barely, barely begun – as a human being, as a Catholic.” How does this statement resonate with you?
“…the proof of true tenderness is action: the willingness to change our lives, to lose our lives. I have only to look at my own life, in which the effort required to, oh, say, answer a phone call can irritate me, to see how far away I am from that.” What do you think of these lines? Can you identify with them at all?
After reflecting on how she thinks God might want to know us better, King states: “Maybe God himself longs for connection…” Have you ever thought of God as a God of longing? Wanting to connect?
What do you think of King’s friend, Clam? What traits does she seem to admire in him?
What does King’s description of the place setting at her dining room table say to you?
What did the author’s short closing sentence “And now—I’m waiting” say to you?
In the book King speaks often of loneliness and solitude. How do you define or understand these 2 words? How do you feel King was using them?
What does the title of the book say to you now, that it didn’t say earlier?
Has your opinion of King changed at all since beginning the book? In what ways?
Would you ever want to read anything else by the author? Why or why not?