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Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places Paperback – March 17, 2008
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"[O]ne of the best books I've read in a while. . . . This glorious book is thoughtful without being laborious, literate without being self-conscious. [Barkat] has a great eye for details, and a luminous style that revels in God's presence in the day-to-day." (Byron Borger, Hearts & Minds Bookstore, Booknotes Blog, March 24, 2008)
"Stone Crossings walks the reader through the foggy landscapes of life, arriving at subtle moments of true grace. Barkat's courageous, unblinking honesty is a gift, a gift offered in gentle, delicate, literary prose." (Don Everts, author of Jesus with Dirty Feet and God in the Flesh)
"You are holding an invitation to a table set for two--you and L. L. Barkat. At this table, near a river in my mind's imagination, she will tell you her story of faith. You may not even notice the river, for the storytelling will lift you into a life of faith that will not lead you to gaze at her but to enjoy the same life of faith. The only writer I know quite like Barkat is Eugene Peterson. That probably tells you all you need to know." (Scot McKnight, author of The Jesus Creed)
"With a storyteller's charm and a Bible teacher's grit, L. L. Barkat weaves memoir, humor and spiritual insight together into a satisfying read. She challenges us to open our eyes anew to the amazing graces God lavishes upon us every day, in ordinary and surprising ways." (Edward Gilbreath, author of Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's Inside View of White Christianity)
"L.L. Barkat tells a painful story of abuse and loss. But it is not her story but God's story that takes center stage in this remarkable book. The beautiful and intelligent writing will pull you in, but the deep and uncommon insights will keep you reading. Here is a book full of the wisdom which can only come when real life meets God's grace through God's Word. It is a book meant to be read slowly." (Steve Hayner, Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Columbia Theological Seminary)
From the Author
Grace. That's the centerpiece of Stone Crossings, shared through the hard and hidden places of my life and the bible.<P> <BR> In sun-dappled creekbeds and strawberry fields, in the dark belly of a whale and on parched desert plains, grace makes surprising appearances. Along the way, it calls, "Where have you been, where are you now, where do you want to be?" Then it gives strength to answer, to hope and to heal.
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Barkat uses the metaphors of stone and rock to develop the themes of her life - conversion, doubt, shame, inclusion, witness, justice, love, gratitude and completion (there are more). Each "stone" begins with the personal and moves to the spiritual, and in that moment of transition comes a recognition for the reader that we're not just reading Barkat's story but our own. Her story becomes our story.
The writing is fine, remarkably fine. The way she tells the story of the Christmas lump of coal had tears running down my cheeks. Or how her grandmother forgets she made apple cakes. Or how the author herself, determined not to fall in love and not believing it falling in love, does so anyway in spite of herself.
I'm glad I walked this journey called "Stone Crossings."
Barkat draws upon outside sources--secular writings, spiritual writings, children's books, and current events. She shares how key people displayed the life of Christ for her: a step-mother who shared the gospel and love; un-named church members who prayed over her, her mother, and her sister when they desperately needed protection; a college counselor who cared and didn't judge; and a boyfriend who didn't abandon her.
Not all significant people in her life were positive. Her honesty and integrity come through when she acknowledges she doesn't know if she's completely forgiven all sins against her--God hasn't required it at this point. But she also shares how forgiving brings freedom. And how, as she found freedom herself, she has been able to share freedom with others.
Ultimately, however, Barkat shines when she turns to Scripture. Her interpretation of Jonah--she identifies both his fear and anger--provoked soul-searching on my part. She confesses she thought God judged Moses harshly. Then she understood God cared more about Moses' heart than his ministry of power. Insights on King Saul, Israel, the Tabernacle, Solomon, Daniel, Paul, and Jesus all illustrate powerful truth. Especially Jesus. Her amplified story of the blind man with mud in his eyes stumbling on his way to the Pool of Siloam set me laughing--while illustrating how I often stumble around when Jesus meets my need.
Most books of this type fail either (a) because they sugar coat reality or (b) because they gloss over Scripture's ambiguities and tensions. L. L. Barkat engages life and Scripture with fearless (and sometimes fearsome) honesty.
If you enjoyed L'Engle's Crosswicks Journals, Lamott's Travelling Mercies, or Robert Benson's Living Prayer, you'll enjoy this book.
She is a poet whose words both shock and heal. She is a teacher whose grasp of the Scriptures and personal acquaintance with God's love make her story resonate. At 176 pages, "Stone Crossings" is a fairly quick read; yet it's one that will prompt readers to pause often for long moments of reflection and to savor Barkat's poetic gift.
For anyone who has felt the hurt and rejection of a troubled upbringing, for anyone who now lives with the enduring shame and guilt of abuse, for anyone who longs for healing, Barkat's story is for you. This is a deep and transforming book that manages to be literary, therapeutic, and theological all at the same time.