When I met River Jordan at SIBA this past September, she approached me with a big smile and gave me a friendly and warm greeting that I just couldn’t ignore. She had remembered me from the previous year and I was touched that she caught my eye and motioned me over to talk about her new book. When I discovered that she would be a featured author at the UCF Book Festival, I was instantly excited at the prospect of meeting her again. I knew that it was high time I took Kathy and Sandy’s advice and cracked open this book that would be sure to change my heart. And you know what? It did.
River’s emotional state when she discovers that both of her sons will be deployed was very interesting. Although she was overwhelmed with sadness and fear, instead of wallowing in those feelings, she made a resolution to turn herself outward towards the strangers she came across every day. Her reasoning was that if she needed prayer, how much more did the people around her need it? I found this reaction to be not only wonderful but miraculous at times. How is it that as humans, we can get so caught up in our own emotional mire that we lose sight of all the others struggling right alongside us? River never forgets that, and though she has to travel miles beyond her comfort zone, she is faithful to her resolution and carries on praying each and every day. I also found her method of choosing the strangers fascinating. She would just feel an intrinsic pull towards the person she should pray for, and most often, her instincts were right on target.
Now, I’m also not a woman who waves my religion like a flag over my head, but I do believe in the power of prayer, no matter what belief system you ascribe to. And while I was reading this book, I kept interrupting myself to say a little prayer here and there for people I knew who were in need of it. That’s the great thing about this book: It inspires its readers to really think about the people around them and to lift a selfless prayer into the ether and hope for miracles. I felt a closeness to River because I’m also not a person who would just walk up to a stranger and ask them how I could pray for them. However, I’ve noticed that since I finished this book, I’ve been taking notice of the people around me a little more fully and sending up silent prayers for them at the spur of the moment. I even stop to ask people their names and give them a greeting, whom others would ignore or even shun.
One of the greatest things about this book was the way that I could see River growing as the chapters progressed. I was also astounded by how recpetive most people were to hear that she would be praying for them. There were funny stories and sad ones and people that needed divine attention more than anything. But most people just needed that human connection: To be told that they matter, that someone was thinking about them and had the temerity to approach them to pray for them. The reactions varied wildly, and it was always intriguing to get River’s account of when her internal radar went off and what reaction her praying provoked. It was a quiet and elegant way for one person in the world to stave off indifference and cruelty; a homage to the broken hearts that pass us by everyday.
This book really changed the way that I look at other people. I’m no longer impatient when someone treats me rudely. I just sort of sigh and think they might need an extra prayer. I pray for people I pass by more than I ever did before, and I’m not saying that I’m going to start approaching people (!) but the thought has crossed my mind. No matter what background you come from or what you believe in, this is a book that will make you think and touch your heart. You don’t have to be a Jesus freak or even believe in God to get it. It’s about the power of positive thoughts put out into the world and how those thoughts change people. In a word: Beautiful.
This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.