I recently read a book I want to tell you about. It is a book that has changed my life. Now before you roll your eyes at that dramatic statement, hear me out.
An Unquenchable Thirst by Mary Johnson.
“An Unquenchable Thirst is the story of my twenty years as a Missionary of Charity, a nun with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. People tell me that the book is more than a fascinating story about nuns; they say it’s a book about being human. That pleases me.
Mother Teresa always used to tell us: “God made us to love and to be loved.” An Unquenchable Thirst is the story of the many ways love surprised and challenged me, and of how I came to understand myself as a woman with body, mind, desires, and what some would call soul. I hope you’ll enjoy my stories, and that my book will spark lively, honest discussion.”
It sparked something, all right. It sparked a long overdue look at some of the painful memories of my past. I was in the seminary in Rome at the same time the author was a sister there. I don’t remember if our paths crossed or not, but the similarities of experience and the struggles came back vividly as I read.
It has also sparked a correspondence with the author. We met through Twitter and have had some engaging letters about the book and about life in general. By way of a review, I would like to share a bit from a note that I wrote to her after I finished An Unquenchable Thirst:
First of all, I think it’s important for me to acknowledge the difficulty in which your book has placed me- I was allowed to confront the (sometimes) harsh realities of my Roman years gently through your own- but I have realized all of the unfinished work before me. I, too have dreams of those days that push me and pull me and wake me up panting for steady breath. There’s obviously more for me to do- and the difficulty is finding my own way to process the lessons of those years. I can’t put it off any longer, and I’m really grateful to you for kickstarting the process for me.
This book changed my life because it forced me to realize the work I had left to do in processing my own time in the church, work that I’ve now taken up again in earnest. It continues to change my life by providing words to some of those experiences. But mostly, I think, it changed my life by giving me a friend, a sister in the best sense of the word- someone who I’m getting to know better through correspondence and mutual support in our “lives outside”.
- Book Review: An Unquenchable Thirst (bigthink.com)