Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fields of Grace by Hannah Luce

Fields of Grace: Faith, Friendship, and the Day I Nearly Lost EverythingFields of Grace: Faith, Friendship, and the Day I Nearly Lost Everything by Hannah Luce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've said this often and I'll say it again, I'm always hesitant to read memoirs and I really have to want to read about the person or the subject matter. I'd never heard of Hannah Luce but I have been following another airplane crash survivor, Stephanie Nielsen, as she has healed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I wanted to hear Hannah's story.

Hannah is young and there are times in the book that her perspective reflects her inexperience. Yet the final product of Hannah Luce is a young woman with a lot of life still to live, experiences to have, made up of the experiences she's already had and learned from and she is, in some respects, more mature in her evolution of growth. I am, no way, disrespecting her as I give the forewarning to not expect a finished product of a mature woman who has lived decades and spent those decades reflecting. She is young woman who articulately expresses herself and her spiritual growth. It's a personal story with many nuggets of truth.

I found her experience in San Francisco particularly poignant as she describes what I have been unable to articulate myself. Her father is an evangelical minister with charisma and a pure heart. He made his opinion known regarding gay marriage then went to preach in San Francisco. The group was met with a mob full of malevolence and spewing hatred. They were angry that the minister was against same sex marriage and accused him of hatred while yelling vile insults and threatening violence. Hannah wanted to understand and quietly crossed the line to gain understanding. These were the outcasts, those who are different and on the fringe. Hannah, like many people, felt an affinity for them because she felt different and on the fringe. They have something in common. But the truth was that they were not truly victims but bullies who fight on pure emotion of hatred. They turned on her. It shocked her.

I found her frank description very well written and resonating. What was a physical battle line is my own metaphorical stance. She didn't agree with her father's belief on gays. On the other hand, she couldn't align herself with a group full of hatred and hypocrisy. Her reaction solidified my own stance on the subject.

I am ambivalent. My church took an active part in the fight for defining marriage as one man and one woman. I applaud their commitment. Had I been asked to help with battle, I would have respectfully declined. Fundamentally, I agree that, in order for society to propagate, marriage needs that definition.

I also know of people in my profession, in the community, and even the neighborhood who are in a same sex relationship. I respect their commitment to each other, particularly those who have been together for so very long. We like each other. We respect each other. We help each other. Their sexual orientation does not define them and what they stand for. They are each persons that I seek out for different reasons at different times and never for questions regarding their sexual orientation. I would not want to stand in their way of continuing their personal lives and happiness.

I resent the battle line that has been drawn. I resent the pressure by both sides to stand on either side. I love people on both sides. So Hannah's reaction to the pressure she felt to choose was perfect. I would have done the same thing.

I didn't mean this to be a political post, I simply found Hannah's questions provoked my own thoughts and clarity. Hannah sees herself as rebellious since she doesn't accept doctrine on faith and dogma like she did as a child. She questions her father's teachings and allowed resentment to build. The accident gave her a beautiful moment of clarity which she extends to her view of God. Her parents are black and white when it comes to being "saved." There is heaven and hell. Yet Hannah never turns her book into a parent-bashing soapbox. She loves them. They adore her. Their hearts are pure. She believes they are misguided. They believe she is misguided. Yet there is still a deep, resonating love and acceptance of one another that never falters.

Hannah's conclusion of her current belief in who God is closely mirrors the feelings between herself and her parents. It is her personal journey and so the reader might or might not agree with her. I did. She is a spiritually gifted woman who did not allow the plane crash to define her but to enrich her. It's well written and I look forward to seeing Hannah's growth in the upcoming years.

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