Duscussion questions for bookclub
What topics in your book or background do you think book clubs would find interesting?
We live in a culture that does not honour heart pain very well and often people feel alone and disappointed in God. In the Cleft opens the door to questioning and pondering about pain, healing and community. In the Cleft introduces the reader to a family that has endured tremendous suffering and has used their difficulties to affect other’s lives for the better. The characters in the memoir help the reader navigate their own life story.
Some questions to ponder at a book club:
-What events in your life have prompted you to ask, “Why God?”
-How can people support others walking through their dark valleys?
-Why do you think we hide our vulnerabilities and pain from one another? What is the cost of doing this?
-Why do we try to keep the secret of our true selves hidden?
-How does hiding from our pain hinder us from turning our painful journeys into something beautiful?
-We learn things through pain and suffering that we wouldn’t otherwise find out about ourselves–we learn what is important in life and gain an understanding about who we really are, what we feel and what we want from life. We learn to find joy in the ashes of our experience or we become bitter, disappointed and depressed. How has suffering taught you about greater love? Is there bitterness you need to let go of? How does God want to resurrect your dreams?
I use many quotes to illuminate my thoughts about grief and my ideas about pain and suffering. These thoughts help readers grow and awaken to something profound–that which can only be gleaned through suffering. People in a book club would be able to discuss what certain quotes mean to them, and to a specific challenge they are facing.
Here are some of my favourites:
“From sea to shining sea, tempests are to be expected in our weather patterns and in our lives.” Patsy Clairmont
“At that moment I needed prayer as much as I needed air to draw my breath or oxygen to fill my blood…a void was behind me. And in front a wall, a wall of darkness.” George Bernanos
“Take the first step of faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Grandy’s arms ached and she felt stone cold and empty. There were no words that could describe the pain she was feeling. What’s more, when she looked out the window it surprised her to see how the rest of the world was going on as usual while her world had stopped.” Pat Schwiebert
“What did the world look like (it’s contours and colours) before the cyclones came, before storms kicked up ordinary time and twisted it, spindled it, into oblivion?” Mary Ann McKibben Dana
“Just like snow, sometimes grief comes on flake at a time. Other times it comes like a blizzard. It melts away, but then it always comes back.” Julia Cook
Here are some of my own quotes that are stepping stones to deeper discussion:
“I sensed Jesus wiping our tears. He looked into our aching hearts and wept along with us.”
“For a long time after Jay’s death, life ebbed and flowed, full colour one moment and then dark night the next. I called it the grief dance.”
“… delving into our feelings would be like setting a match to gasoline.”
“Cancer could not destroy the parts of my children’s personalities that had been unique to them since they were born.”
“Zach and Carter’s enthusiasm reminded me that our family life had not been reduced to facts, prognoses and to-do lists. Their personalities buoyed the heavy cancer atmosphere and wove into my pain like balm.”
“My inward grief was terrifyingly loud, but outwardly it was silent.”
“Around each twist and turn in the road there was a false summit.”
“As the months passed, God’s compassion melted away the sharp edges of my grief… the shadows became grey instead of black…”
“Suffering up close looks like a bleeding mess of broken dreams.”