Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: Cold Tangerines

I recently finished Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist.  I had actually been reading it for quite a long time.  I read just one chapter (each an individual essay) a day, then thought about it for the rest of the day, sometimes thinking for more than just one day.  Because Cold Tangerines is that kind of a book: one that makes you think about every story and every gem of wisdom that it includes.

At its core, Cold Tangerines is a book about celebration.  Shauna Niequist set out to write a book about God's goodness and faithfulness and all the gifts He gives us to celebrate.  But while she was in the process of writing the book, Niequist went through some very difficult times in her own life, the most significant of which was losing her job in a church.  So the book ends up as this beautiful portrait about celebrating God's promises even when we can't see them, even when things look so dark that we don't know how we're going to make it through.  It's a book about choosing to live joyfully, even when we don't see anything in our lives to feel joyful about.  It is full of humor and wisdom and wonderful insights.  I highly, highly recommend it to everyone.

So many times when I was reading this book, I would stop and say, "YES.  That is EXACTLY how I feel.  Shauna Niequist, you really understand me.  Except that you are infinitely wiser and more articulate than I am."  I'm not sure if everyone who reads the book feels that way, or if maybe I'm just on the same wavelength as Shauna (while reading the book, I compiled quite a lot of similarities between the two of us).  So let me just leave you with a handful of my favorite pearls from this book:

From "Shalom":
"I have been surprised to find that I am given more life, more hope, moments of buoyancy and redemption, the more I give up.  The more I let go, do without, reduce, the more I feel rich.  The more I let people be who they are, instead of cramming them into what I need from them, the more surprised I am by their beauty and depth."

From "Blessings and Curses":
"Now we're talking about celebration.  Celebration when you think you're calling the shots?  Easy.  Celebration when your plan is working?  Anyone can do that.  But when you realize that the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you choose to call it an epic, that's when you start to learn what celebration is.  When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that's celebration."

Also from "Blessings and Curses":
"Nothing good comes easily.  You have to lose things you thought you loved, give up things you thought you needed.  You have to get over yourself, beyond your past, out from under the weight of your future.  The good stuff never comes when things are easy."

From "Writing in Pencil":
"I just turned thirty, and I'm finally willing to admit something about life, or at least about my life, and it's this: I should have written in pencil.  I should have viewed the trajectory of my life as a mystery or an unknown, like 'maybe' and 'possibly.'  Instead, every chance I got, I wrote in stone and Sharpie.  I stood on my future, on what I knew, on the certainty of what life would hold for me, as though it was rock.  What I know now is that instead of rock, it's more like a magic carpet, a lippy-slidy-wiggly thing, full of equal parts play and terror.  The ground beneath my feet is lurching and breaking, and making way for an entirely new thing every time I look down, susprised once again by a future I couldn't have predicted."

Also from "Writing in Pencil":
"Everything is interim.  Everything is a path or a preparation for the next thing, and we never know what the next thing is.  Life is like that, of course, twisty and surprising.  But life with God is like that exponentially.  We can dig in, make plans, write in stone, pretend we're not listening, but the voice of God has a way of being heard.  It seeps in like smoke or vapor even when we've barred the door against any last-minute changes, and it moves us to different countries and emotional territories and different ways of living.  It keeps us moving and dancing and watching, and never lets us drop down into a life set on cruise control or a life ruled by remote control.  Life with God is a daring dream, full of flashes and last-minute extras and generally all the things we've said we'll never do.  And with the surprises come great hope."

No comments:

Post a Comment