Last Tuesday night, 9 members of our book club, The Church Chicks, took the church bus to Mending Hearts in downtown Nashville. Mending Hearts is a place of recovery for addicts of all sorts (alcohol, drugs, sex (prostitutes), etc. See info. at www.Mendinghearts.com Our out-reach minister has a class there twice a month (life skills, how to step out into the world after recovery, etc.) which several of the women are required to attend. His wife, Jean, is a part of our club; so at her suggestion (Thanks! Jean) we each selected 3-5 books for the community bookshelf and took off.
In introduction, Jean explained what our book club was and its benefits (community, learning, just plain fun, etc.) and then reviewed the books she brought. We are hoping that they will want to begin a book club there. Indeed, one of the listeners said she had been a part of a book club in prison and had loved it. Then the rest of us told about our books, dropping in along the way how important reading is (many of our club are retired teachers) and what one can gain from it.
Jean also had us tell a little bit of our backgrounds too. The retired kindergarten and elementary teachers stressed books for children and reading to children. One spoke about how much she enjoyed books on tape and that they had helped her "read" books she may not have ever picked up. Bernie Arnold broke up the meeting with one of her books Mean Women Grown Up( I think that was the title) when she read a little portion which spoke of how mean and conniving women could be. There several Amens from the audience.
When we left, we arranged our books on their almost empty bookshelves--all they had were a few old books people who don't engage with their recipients like to give away. We purposefully did not take "religious" how-to books. We took mysteries, biographies, historical novels, funny books, books about families. Of course, none of the books were trashy drugstore bodice-ripping novels. Many were books we have read in our book club.
As we said goodby, some of them followed us to the bus thanking us over and over again. It was a great night for us, but a sobering one. It was so sad for us to see the hard lives in their faces and to see how young some of them were. We couldn't help but think about our own daughters and their privileged lives. Thank God for Mending Hearts, Doug Sanders, and others who are stepping out of the church building to touch and change people who would probably never step inside the doors.
It was just a small thing, and didn't take much time, but I highly recommend a time of ministry for one of the groups you may be in, dear reader.