Confession: I was supposed to publish this the week that this book launched into the world in October of 2022. I posted these words in a number of other places. But even though I had this post ready to go weeks in advance, when the day came, I forgot to hit the “publish” button. I actually didn’t realize this wasn’t already published until I opened up WordPress to write something else. So after months of being out in the world, let me tell you about a book:
Start With Hello, by Shannan Martin
In a society marked by hyper-individuality, a lack of real connection that leaves us lonely, and what feels like insurmountable division, we need Shannan’s words. Through her storytelling, she paints a picture of what our lives together as communities and a society can be. And through her practical wisdom, she gives us a path for how we can move in that direction. (One way she does that is by ending each chapter with “One Simple Way to Move toward Each Other.”)
She ends with “A Neighbor’s Blessing.” If any part of this blessing resonates with you, then this book is for you:
“May you go out into this bewildering world warmed by the fire of possibility.
May you come to see walking shoes, soup spoons, minivans, and wrinkled hands as worthy tools for connection.
May your heart stay tender, your hands stay open, and your door stay easy on its hinges.
May you find comfort in the moon, art in the clouds, and goodness in the faces around you.
May you gather, listen, and hope relentlessly.
And May you never give up on the living light if belonging, right where you are.
Grace and peace and gumption be with you.”
One more thing about this book stands out: In addition to people who resemble herself as a white woman, Shannan Martin gleans wisdom from diverse voices—including men and women who are Black, Asian, Latine, and Indigenous. This book is a demonstration of how learning from diverse voices makes our lived theology more robust.