Student and teacher join forces to share personal stories with the intention that others may rediscover the spiritual significance of everyday events.
In this debut collection of 28 inspirational short stories, Barker and Potvin reveal mutual insights gleaned from their otherwise dissimilar lives to inspire others and promote the teachings of Christ. Barker is a wife and mother, raising a child with Down syndrome in a close-knit family, while the older Potvin struggled as a father with his rebellious daughter and boasts such life experiences as once having lost a car in a game of pool. Yet despite these differences, the two discovered each other in 2002 when Barker was a graduate student and Potvin her professor, his encouragement strengthening her burgeoning faith. Drawing on funny, informative, and sometimes heart-wrenching experiences, they have compiled hard-learned lessons for better spiritual living, from how to treat others and one’s self, to how to appreciate God’s everyday miracles and cultivate a stronger relationship with Christ. This work is modest in voice and execution, each brief anecdote beginning with a quote from the likes of Mark Twain, William Blake, C.S. Lewis, even Woody Allen (among others), and ending with a cited passage of relevant Scripture. These bookends, along with explicit notation of the author of each passage, help ease the transitions between the writers’ differing styles. Barker’s sections are plainly religious, sharing her day-to-day family trials to illustrate a broader commentary about her personal relationship with God, while indulging in a self-admitted fetish for beautiful, naturalistic imagery, which she vividly re-creates. Potvin’s contributions are more contemplative, ruminating on missed opportunities and what his own stories aim to teach, while still offering strong emotional moments, particularly concerning his daughter. Barker shares some interactions with her co-writer, but these are too few, and it would have been nice to see more of their connections beyond these and the preface. Though the essays show a different approach to faith and highly varied life experiences, their conclusions are the same, preaching the utility of prayer, reflection, and other cathartic outlets, while showcasing the importance of forgiveness and understanding.
Two authors with disparate life experiences offer similar spiritual guidance and wisdom in this effective book.