You can hide from the sun, but it won’t take that personally. It’ll never, ever punish you for hiding. You can stay in the dark for years or decades, and when you finally step outside, it’ll be there. It was there the whole time, shining and shining. It’ll still be there, steady and bright as ever, just waiting for you to notice, to come out, to be warmed. All those years, I thought of God and light and the sun as judgmental, but they weren’t. The sunrise was my daily invitation from God to come back to life. (p. 19)
I was introduced to Melton’s work via my husband’s cousin, who read this first book of hers while on a year long trip around the world. She read a hundred books while they were traveling, which covered topics as diverse as immigration policy, social work, international adoption, racism in the prison system – I could go on, but as I’m sure you can imagine, she is a woman with a great heart and a passion for difficult learning.
Many of the books she read sounded interesting, and I marked them to come back to when I have less toddler brain, but this one intrigued me. I followed the link to Melton’s blog and was instantly hooked. Here was a woman with a difficult past who was using her experiences to build a powerful and loving network of women. I’m privileged to know similar beacons in my own life, but it’s always heart opening to meet another.
If I am in the habit of turning my back on others, it is because I haven’t learned that God approaches us in the disguise of other people. If I am confident but not humble, my mind is closed. If my mind is closed, my heart is closed. A closed heart is so sad. It is the end. A heart cannot grow any larger if it decides to let no more God in. There is always room for more. A heart expands exactly as much as her owner allows. (pp. 175-176)
Melton is easy to read. She’s self-deprecating and funny, and it’s obvious she has honed her skills on her blog. She has the conversational style that I enjoy in a memoir, and I found myself eager to come back to her wisdom each evening after putting my son to bed. I was often reading new blog posts in conjunction with this story, which makes for a fascinating blending of real time and the past.
At the moment, she’s getting ready to go on a speaking tour for her new book, which I’m anxious to get my hands on, and I keep hoping her tour will be updated to come to a city near me. I don’t often have much interest in hearing authors speak (let’s just say there’s a reason why most use the written word), but her events have a way of becoming a massive empowerment of self and community love.
I find the idea of such a gathering both intriguing and terrifying. Given that I’m not the sort of person who even likes to hug, the possibility of being surrounded by hundred or thousands of emotionally stirred people strikes me as potentially the worst decision ever, and yet, her words resonate with me. Her ideas make me want to act. Her ability to make a difference, even with all the poor decisions she’s made, is inspiring. She isn’t held back by imperfection. She doesn’t point fingers or demand retribution. She simply tries. She tries to be the kind of person she wants to be, failures and all, and to me, that is the distillation of goodness – not perfection, but struggle and perseverance.
The only meaningful thing we can offer one another is love. Not advice, not questions about our choices, not suggestions for the future, just love. (p. 198)