I met River Jordan last year at the Charleston SIBA. We had an easy introduction because Kathy (Bermudaonion) had already read and reviewed this book, and loved it more than you will ever know. And just from meeting this quiet and thoughtful woman, I knew this book had to be something special. Now that I've read this amazing book myself, I'm thrilled that I will meet her again at the UCF Book Festival in three weeks. She has touched my heart, and I need to tell her face to face.
Synopsis: When River's two sons were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, she was beside herself with worry. In an instant, she decided that the only way she was going to survive the waiting was to turn her attentions away from herself and towards others. Thus, a New Year's resolution was born, one where every day she would find a stranger that stood out to her in some way, and she would pray for them.
Soon she found out that it wasn't good enough to just pray for this person at night. People need to know that there is someone out there, a stranger, who has their back and is praying blessings for them. Being an extremely introverted person, and a person who is quiet about her religion, River was horrified at the idea of approaching her daily stranger to tell them this. But she did it anyway, "a person who had decided the bubble of her world could be broken", and learned many lessons along the way:
* How any stranger out there, particularly those that serve us in some way, deserve not to be one of the nameless faces doing something for us. "Everyone has a name - and they long to be seen, to be heard, and to be acknowledged for more than just being another cashier at the counter, driver behind the wheel."
* In the process of praying for politicians of all parties, "the longer you pray for someone, the more you lose that crust of ambivalence, that twinge of not liking them. Those things fall away, and instead sometimes there's just a flash of comprehension, compassion, and care...".
* There is importance and benefits of connections, however brief or momentary, and one should forget to worry so much about people not receiving (the prayers) well. Being offered a prayer is like being offered a gift, and doing so makes the world a better place.
This book represents a collection of stories about some of the strangers that River connected with in her "adventure of the human spirit". Each a special soul that was touched by River and who touched her as well.
My thoughts: About ten pages into this book, I cried for the first time. And it wasn't the last. These stories will touch your heart, and make you truly want to be a better person. To be able to reach out to people and make a small but important difference in their lives. If everyone read this book and adopted this practice, I swear the world's landscape would change forever.
It is important that you know that River isn't the type of person that lectures or preaches anything. She is a gentle, inward person who wants to share her journey with you. If you are wary of books with overbearing, religious overtones, you should not be concerned to read this. You will embrace it. After reading about a third of the book, I began to carry it around with me, telling my friends that this is a must-read.
Will I begin to do as River did, and pray for strangers? Absolutely I will. I must. I have always been kind to anyone I cross paths with, but I'm often in my own world, thinking about my schedule, my grocery list, or what I'm making for dinner. I think this will make the difference, make me more aware of what is happening around me. I would suggest that this book could change your life if you open your heart and mind.
I'm going to leave you with River's book trailer, which Kathy showed in her review as well.
5 out of 5 stars