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Funeral for a Stranger makes you think about dying, and living

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By JENNIFER HORTONThe Wilson Post

If you have the opportunity, pick up the new book by Becca Stevens called Funeral for a Stranger, a book that can open your eyes to those who are around us and who we may have missed before.

The book is about a funeral Stevens was asked to officiate for a woman she had never met, but at the same time it is about much more.

“Already this funeral is a gift, and I haven’t even walked through the door,” Stevens writes.

Death makes us think, regardless of whether we knew the deceased. We think about our own lives, perhaps how we have lived and how we are living now. We think of our families and how they will be if we should leave this earth before they do. We think about dying and how each one of us must face our own inevitable deaths alone.

As for the strangers among us who die, this book talks about having compassion for those around us whose names or lives we don’t know.

“I have seen water move rocks. I have seen thistles break through boulders. If water and flowers can move stones, surely love can,” she says in her book.

Stevens knew nothing of the woman or her family’s history, whether they had worshiped somewhere and if they had left the church for some reason. She says “the prayer of community always includes a request to mend the brokenness among us as well as within ourselves. The problem occurs when relationships are severed permanently. That is when strangers are born.”

Funeral for a Stranger, published by Abingdon Press, has garnered good reviews including one from Publisher’s Weekly that said “the book will be loving, spiritual balm to those who, regardless of Christian denomination, feel the pangs of loneliness and loss.”

Stevens is an Episcopal priest at St. Augustine’s Chapel at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. She is also founding director of Magdalene, which is a place where women with a criminal history of prostitution and drug abuse live and recover. The women of Magdalene operate a non-profit business called Thistle Farms and make bath and body products. Proceeds are used to operate Magdalene.

Stevens, along with the women of Magdalene, are the authors of Find Your Way Home: Words from the Street, Wisdom from the Heart. Stevens is also the author of Hither & Yon, Finding Balance and Sanctuary.

The book is available at area bookstores or online.

Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at news@wilsonpost.com.

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