My friend, River Jordan’s, fifth book is being released today. Her first four books are novels, but this one is something altogether different. I asked River how she would “classify” it. We agreed that “Praying For Strangers” is within a sub-genre of creative nonfiction that could be called “spiritual memoir.” But it’s not about religion. It’s about truth and mystery. And the magic that happens when human lives intersect.
River is a natural storyteller. She has a great radio show on Friday mornings where she interviews authors, “walks” some blogs, and plays an eclectic mix of music. (Photo by Chris Blanz.)
So it seems a natural extension of River’s love of the story that she made a resolution to meet a stranger every day in 2009 and pray for them. Except that she’s such a private person when it comes to God and religion. As she says in the book, “Me and religion don’t cozy. Me and the mystery? Well, that’s a different story.” So this resolution forced her out of her comfort zone in matters of faith. Over the course of the year she met homeless people, cab drivers, hotel desk clerks, waitresses, out-of-work beauty queens, a man in the back of a truck, and a “crumpled-over soul at the bus stop,” and countless unsuspecting others. Watch this video to learn more about her journey.
One thing that River and I share in common is that we both have sons who deployed to Afghanastan about the same time, and she also had a son deploying to Iraq, as my son had done twice previously. With both of her boys going off to war, she was able to move outside her own anxiety zone about her sons by focuses on others during the year her boys would be gone.
It wasn’t a social experiment. There was no personal agenda. Instead, as River says, “These strangers, this adventure, are making me a better person.”
When I asked River if she stopped praying for strangers when the year was up she said no. She can't seem to stop.
River is a regular at the Psychology Today blog, where you can read about “Praying For Strangers,” and others topics that relate to the human spirit.
For my Memphis readers, she’ll be reading at 6 p.m. this Thursday night at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Laurelwood Shopping Center. Hope to see you there! (Check her tour schedule to learn when she’ll be in your city. Her tour kicks off at the Bookman/Bookwoman in Nashville Wednesday night.)