Read it and hope

file000459357359For the most part I don’t like book recommendations. Thanks for thinking of me, I say afterwards. I don’t say: I skimmed as far as I could and then put it down before I threw it in the fire.

That’s great. I’m looking forward to it, I say before I read.

I don’t say: Really? Didn’t I already read one in that series? (And to Boy two, whose hundredth recommendation I am currently reading . . .Buddy, you’re wearing a purple head covering and bright red shorts from morning until night these days. Don’t you think it’s possible we’d have different taste in books?)

Last week, I got another one. It had a lousy title (Tattoos on the Heart) but Anne Lamott had blurbed it so I opened my mind to potential readability. The book is written by a Catholic priest who works with gang members in Los Angeles. I thought it possible that I might be moved by something outside of me.  People who don’t speak my language, look like me, eat like me, or dress like me. I find it very safe to be touched by people with whom I have absolutely nothing in common. But the book didn’t do that for me.

Tattoos on the Heart, didn’t give me a perch in a museum to watch the strangers from. It didn’t knock me over or wake me up either. It flooded me. Gently, it rose inside of me, washed over a couple of damns (not a typo) and spilled joyfully onto the parched and dry places of my heart.

I don’t know when I have had my eyes opened so clearly to who God is or how much He loves.  Me, the people around me, and people I can really only try to imagine. I have never seen with such clarity that the love is now. Not when we’re fixed up, put together and behaving well. Right now.

If you’re looking for a book or if you’re feeling a little lost and unworthy, I would really recommend this book.


**The only proviso is language. Gang members aren’t often schooled in the King’s best English; their stories reflect this. If strong language is a barrier for you for one reason or another, then this is not the book for you. – Myself, well, I don’t mind the talk of the sea. Besides, when I hear people with worse language than myself it comforts me. I didn’t understand a lot of the Spanish phrases. My policy was to get whatever I could get without straining and skip over the rest.

3 Comments to Read it and hope

  1. Leslie Lynch says:

    I read this book a year or two ago, and had the same response: Flooded with God’s love, evidence of the Spirit moving in ways and places I didn’t expect. Grace and mercy in a harsh landscape. The book touched me deeply.

    *I know some Spanish, so that wasn’t a problem for me, nor was the strong language. Those issues paled in comparison to the shared humanity and common struggles the book made so clear.

  2. This excellent book is by Gregory Boyle (not the one of nearly identical title by P. Dabdoub.