Along with good book reviews, one of the most nourishing things for any writer is to receive letters from readers. Throughout my sixteen books, I’ve heard from many readers, but this new memoir has brought me the most gratifying and insightful letters of all. Perhaps this is because I Want To Be Left Behind is my most personal book, centered as much on human nature as on nature herself. I am so grateful to you, dear Readers, for taking the time to read my book and write me such heartfelt and nurturing notes.
I want to share here some of the letters that have cheered me on, delighted and informed, taught me and lent me a warm wind at my back as I continue to bring this book into the world. Many of these I’ve printed out and carried with me on this continuing book tour. Other letters I’ve posted above my desk to help me face a blank page or any criticism that might come my way. I take heart from you, my Readers.
“I appreciated your memoir, completely related to it, and hope that it touches other people in the same way it touched me . . . Although I am a little younger than you, our lives have followed similar paths . . . I was an intense seeker of God as a child and ended up getting ‘saved’ in a Bible Baptist church and then attending an Assemblies of God college . . . I like to call myself a pantheist . . . I believe that God resides in everything and transcends everything . . . Both my son and daughter are budding naturalists. Thanks again for such a wonderful memoir.”From Gayle:
“You book has meant so much to me; I laughed, cried, and shared so many moments with you that it was crazy. I know every song, and sometimes guessed the next song before I read it . . . I want to thank you for writing my story and if I feel that way there must be hundreds out there like me that will feel the same. You have written a very healing book and I think it will help many.”From Elizabeth:
“One thing that impressed me about your book is your clear love and appreciation for your family, your parents in particular . . . You have written a beautiful, brave book from the truth of your heart.”From Leslie:
“What a joy it was to read another’s tale of the challenge of growing up in a fundamentalist culture when you want to ask those hard, taboo questions . . . I was most affected by your choice of hymn titles and quotes to develop your story and move your tale along. I almost always cry when I think of the song “The Garden.” Every hymn you mentioned brought back floods of memoires of those long hours in church and Sunday School. From the church, I did take away a great love of the music. If I could just have the music without the dogma! You write so eloquently and respectfully on a very challenging subject.”From Izabella:
“Love your book – live on a cove on the east coast, Rhode Island, and wish I had your words to express the beauty that I see on a regular basis, and at many times just out of the corner of my eye. Thanks again for the enjoyment I got reading your book.”From Leska:
“Reading your book was one of my life’s pleasures . . . I felt buoyed, rolled, and lovingly poked at as I wove my way through your story of heartache and confusion around your family’s beliefs and your irrepressible love of each other and a good song. No simple answers. How can a family that can sing with such unpracticed harmony maintain so much discord? The story is a metaphor for all the conflict that surrounds us. Such a universal of the human experience. You take a drastic storyline and irreconcilable differences and keep working and folding the love into the mix. Your book made me feel that a lot more is possible than we give ourselves credit for. Thank you for writing this book for all of us.”This book has received such wonderful reviews—from Booklist’s starred review to the L.A. Times to Christian Science Monitor. I am so grateful that both critics and readers are responding so favorably to my new memoir. It confirms in me the hope that there are others who seek a Divine presence in all that is alive; and that there are many others who cherish and celebrate finding rapture here on Earth. May we continue to find each other!
P.S. There are some new NPR interviews airing this month and an in-depth interview on Religion Dispatches at these links:
NPR To The Best of Our Knowledge: "Sacred Nature"
My segment starts at about 30:28 but the whole program is well worth listening to, including Bill McKibben and “Dark, Green Religion.”
Religion Dispatches.com: The Forest vs. the Faithful: A Born-Again Environmentalist Tells All