Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts"

A meditation. A devotional. A confession. A prayer. An explication of Scripture. A plaintive cry.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is all of these things, and more. I’ve never read a book quite like this one. I’ve never been moved in quite this way by a book, either.

She begins with an accidental death – of her sister when they were young children. The death and its aftermath, an aftermath that never really ends, radiate outwardly. Embracing and engulfing the family, ricocheting and echoing through time, affecting and touching so many and so much.

Voskamp asks this question: “How do I fully live when life is full of hurt? How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?”

And then she answers it, by taking us on a journey that is rather unexpected – the journey of the daily, the small things, those little things that comprise a day, a moment, a life. She begins to see what she calls the eucharisteo, a combination of grace, thanksgiving and joy. It’s there. It’s there for her and for all of us. But this journey happens in fits and starts, advances and setbacks, something we all recognize as life.

She starts keeping a list of gifts she already has, the gifts she purposely begins to notice, like the “cry of blue jay from high in the spruce.” The list eventually reaches and passes one thousand gifts.

Along this journey, we find time, grace, aching hurt, disbelief, emptiness and intimacy. And we find God, always God, for that’s to whom this book is really addressed.

An honest, raw and bleeding, loving epistle to God.

It’s remarkable.

And I've started a list, too.

1. Snow lingering like cake frosting in our north-facing backyard.
6. Two little boys standing outside the grocery store, collecting food for the hungry.
9. The church choir bursting forth with "All Creatures of Our God and King," and singing a leavening of Alleluias.

She's right. It's eucharisteo.

Ann Voskamp blogs at A Holy Experience.


Laura said...

A wonderful review, Glynn. I am reading Ann's book's a slow savor. I am finding her words and Maureen's in Neruda's Memoirs to be fitting companions. Beauty, beauty, beauty.

Who am I to deserve such decadence?

Louise Gallagher said...

Oh wow -- I'm off to check it out and to claimm my 1,000 gifts.

Wonderful review Glynn -- inspiring and motivating. A beautiful gift this morning.

Maureen said...

I'm also reading Ann's book, a chapter or two before retiring for the night. There's much to admire in the book, which is Ann's act of love.

S. Etole said...

Your reviews whet my appetite for more. And even though I haven't read her book, I have a list.

Kathleen Overby said...

I finished it last night. The progression towards the most intimate way we experience God as Lover and give him delight and pleasure. She says it- brave girl! My heart throbbed along with each word, knowing, agreeing. Paris and honeymoons ...........ahhhhhhh Ann, I think you are a poem and made a poem and the great poet must be pleased beyond measure. Gratefulness and intimacy. Bottom line. :)

Glynn, do you as a man think it is difficult to relate to God as lover? I know, this is a bold question, but I want to know. Loverby struggles with this aspect. :) Thanks for this lovely post.

Cassandra Frear said...

Nicely done. Simple and elegant.

Anonymous said...

howdy glynn

i really like your list,

andl the review.

Anonymous said...

This sounds so good. Thank you for the thoughtful review, Glynn.

Jeanne Damoff said...

Love Ann. Love her heart. Love her way of seeing. Love her book.

I also love your list. It's such a gift to see this way, no?

David Rupert said...

I was taken in to the book on the very first page. I'm trying not to buy the hype -- but it's hard. It's a great book. almost mystical in nature. I love the weaving of the Last Supper nothing else

Anonymous said...

"An honest, raw and bleeding, loving epistle to God."
Sure is! Nice to see this post and your list.

Linda said...

I am rereading it now Glynn - I just need to really slowly take it all in and let it settle down deep.
You've done a great review.

Jennifer @ said...

I enjoyed your review -- and your list.

I started the book a couple weeks ago, and immediately began to devour it like a person who hadn't eaten for days. I had to just set it down for a while, and now I'm going back, reading more slowly this time. It's a gift.

Duane Scott said...

I want this book! ;) great review