Bread & Wine.

It's arrived!  I'm happily in the midst of reading Shauna Niequist's latest book, Bread & Wine.  Shauna's people have once again been kind enough to include me in the group of bloggers reading and reviewing advance copies of the book, and I can't wait to officially share about it here once I'm done.  But let's just say this - this book speaks my language in every way.  I nearly wept reading the intro alone.  As if I should be surprised...

Shauna's first book, Cold Tangerines, taught me that "this pedestrian life" is the best life I've got.  Cold Tangerines began my love story with living more deeply - stopping, pausing my frantic, busy, married working-girl life to be more present in the details, to tell my story and invite others into it.

Her second book, Bittersweet, was read shortly after I became a mother, at a time when I could not be experiencing change more deeply, in the beautifully exhausting hours of caring for a newborn.

Two-and-a-half-years later, I still can say along with Shauna, "I’m so thankful to live in this physical, messy, blood-and-guts world." (Bittersweet)

How I love some bread and wine in my life on a regular basis - yes, I do love bread (hello, I'm Italian) and wine (apparently I also love white wine, who knew?) but together, "bread & wine" is communion.  Community.  This introvert loves having people over, sharing meals around our table.  It's all part of this year's purpose of embracing who I really am

Our home is centered around one very large, rustic farm table that my husband built from salvaged barn wood.  In just a few years, I cannot even count the memorable meals we've shared around that table, crumbs falling through the holes in the table's imperfect surface, elbows touching, glasses being filled and refilled.  So far, Bread & Wine resonates with these passions perfectly. I've already written the name of my friend "Linda" in the margin on page 13. And "Aunt Lucille" in the margin on page 14.

We're off to a good start, friends.  More to come...

* This post includes Amazon affiliate links.


I re-read this passage today in Shauna Niequist's book Cold Tangerines and nearly wept...

"There is a way of living, a way of harmonizing and hitting a balance point, a converging of a thousand balance points and voices, layering together, twisting together, and there are moments when it all clicks into place just for a split second - God and marriage and forgiveness and something deep inside that feels like peace - and that's the place I'm trying to get to.

I have glimpses every once in awhile of this achingly beautiful way of living that comes when the plates stop spinning and the masks fall off and the apologies come from the deepest places and so do the prayers, and I am fighting, elbowing to make more of my life that life.  I want that spirit or force of happiness that is so much deeper than happy - peace that comes from your toes, that makes you want to live forever, that makes you gulp back sobs because you remember so many moments of so much un-peace.  I search for those moments the way I search for beach glass, bits of glitter along a desolate expanse of sand, and I want those moments to stretch into hours, into days.

The word I use for it is shalom."

One of the shalom moments I experienced that still shakes me to this day is when I was in labor with Luci Belle.  There was a specific moment of labor - hour whatever of 36 - when I was conscious of being stripped to the truest and most naked part of my soul.  It was such a strange feeling, because I was truly fighting to bring her into the world, but I felt such deep peace.  I remember my husband laying next to me, holding me on the bed at the birth center, and hearing my life anthem, Caedmon's Call's "Lead of Love," playing on the iPod and weeping, because I felt so happy, so grateful to be in that moment.  Her birth didn't turn out at all like I'd planned but it was just right - just what I needed it to be.

And here I am today, at almost-thirty-five-years-old, uncovering deeper darker parts of my personality that I really want to change.  Once and for all, I want to learn the art of letting go.  Gracefully.  I want to stop carrying resentment and bitterness with me, or a heart of perfection and blame.   I want to learn true humility rather than the fake kind that pretends everything is okay when it isn't and then resorts to defensiveness and pride.  I want to continue opening myself to love others better. 

Yes, I want "more of my life that life."

Shauna goes on to say...

"To get there, I'm finding, is the hardest work and the most worthwhile fight.  Shalom requires so much, so much more than I thought I would have to sacrifice, and it scrapes so deeply through the lowest parts of me, divulging and demonstrating so many dark corners.  It's something you can't fake, so you have to lay yourself open to it, wide open and vulnerable to what it might ask of you, what it might require you to give up, get over, get outside of, get free from.  It feels, sometimes, like running farther than you thought you could run, legs shaking and lungs burning, feeling proud and surprised at what little old you could do."

I could quote the entire chapter, but I hope you'll read - or re-read - it for yourself, because I dare say there's not one person among us who isn't searching for more shalom.

My lender copy of Cold Tangerines is ready and waiting for its next borrower - who's it gonna be?