As a mother of an adult daughter who does not share my spiritual practices, I am deeply comforted and delighted to read a book, such as this, in which both mother and daughter seek to keep their love whole while diverging in their trust in and practice of the spiritual traditions in which each of them was raised. Together they have shared a snapshot of a family relationship in which each one is candid, each one acts with integrity, and each one keeps faith with each other.
I had a great deal of empathy for Jane, the mother, the religious and “spiritual” one, because I am an ordained in my religious tradition, continue to serve the Church faithfully, and in that sense am the most traditional person of faith in my family. It is challenging to see one’s family reject or depart or just drift away from the precepts to which one has given her life. Yet as Jane and Ellen and the others in the family demonstrate divergent spiritual paths do not need to be the source of estrangement or distance.
The mother and daughter team is put to severe challenges when Ellen goes to teach in a remote part of Japan, never imagining it would be a time in which the tsunami hit its shores. The qualities of respect, concern, interest and longing are expressed eloquently in their own blogs by each of them, as they continue to find ways to be connected. It also speaks to their courage that each of them would collaborate in sharing this part of their journey with a wider audience.
I find hope in this book—hope that the Holy One that has created and holds the world is larger and more mysterious than we imagine, hope that we can be true to our own faith tradition and community without losing love and compassion with others in search of a different path, and hope that the joy that can come from loving in a family is not lost when spiritual difference arise. They haven’t in mine; Jane and Ellen broaden that hope.