There is something raw and beautiful about reading letters that takes the soul back in time. Reading a collection of letters feels like you are peeking into someone else’s life; personal life of confessions, doubts, fear, and even love. The art of letter writing is much lost in today’s world but not for Amy and Jessica (Jess). Reading through their years of letters that started as a devotion to Lent and carried on through the years to come was like reading a daily devotional. These authors navigated through life pulling from each other’s strengths and walking each other through their weaknesses as they both searched and longed for God. Their friendship was much like Ruth and Naomi’s in the Book of Ruth. They were there for each other spiritually (“Thy God shall be my God”) through these letters. Their friendship is a bond we all hope to have at least once in our lifetime.
These women met in a creative writing workshop where they both confessed to writing about God. Jess grew as a cradle Catholic and Amy grew up believing in God despite living in an agnostic household. Amy decided to convert to Catholicism and asked Jessica to be her sponsor. This led them to writing one letter a day to each other during Lent. We see in these letters, Amy learning more and more about the Catholic faith and Jess remembering the significance of it all. Jess admits that she does not know if she ever has felt God’s presence in prayer and Amy fears she prays more for God’s sake then her own. That her lack of desire for God is astonishing and she expresses her hope that in writing the letters that she will find that desire. She writes to Jess that she doesn’t yearn for God but yearns to yearn for God.
Jess’s writing is more about the Church and her experiences during Lent. She writes about Ash Wednesday, the Sunday Gospels, Adoration, Holy Week, Easter, and, of course, how she felt when her friend Amy joined the Church. Jess writes so wonderfully about Mass. She writes, “One of the great surprises to me about Mass is how it tells a story, over and over on every Sunday and through every year. And it doesn’t tell just tell the story but plays it out, letting us enter it ourselves.” Amy’s writing reads a lot like poetry in a sense. Even her trials are read beautifully. She chose St. Teresa as her patron saint and writes about the book Interior Castle, which I believe helped her to realize that her desires in life are part of desiring God. She writes, “I failed to imagine St. Teresa’s incarnate God who dwells in the innermost chamber of our souls, who permeates our loves and losses.”
You will find yourself comparing your life and views with either Amy or Jess. I seem to be more like Jess. Jess has a fear of hell, and does not know how to love without worry, fear, and doubt. She loved her mother so much, and when she died, it left behind the fear that loving someone so much again could lead to the same pain she felt from her mother’s passing. She writes about this so beautifully that I could not help but feel her pain in my own struggles with loss.
This book is not only a timeless display of emotions about finding God in the Church but it is also inspiring. You will want to get out the pen and paper and write all your friend’s letters about God after reading just the first few letters of this book. The spiritual friendship of Amy and Jess will bring tears of happiness but also sadness as tragedy strikes. They both wonder if their friendship will survive the grief. Will the sadness and despair ruin their faith-filled unity or will gratitude and hope sustain them? Will “whither thou goest I will go” stand the test of time?
About the Authors: Amy Andrews http://www.loyolapress.com/authors/amy-andrews
Jessica Mesman Griffith http://www.loyolapress.com/authors/jessica-mesman-griffith
Publisher: Loyola Press