Sunday, March 2, 2014


Incognito: Lost and Found at Harvard Divinity School

Incognito is like a recollection of a journey into several wildernesses. One of them is Harvard Divinity School- a place of exploration, dialogue, and discovery. The other is the wilderness of a young woman's own mind and soul, perhaps an even more startling and confusing place than HDS. 

While devouring this book there were times I laughed, many times when I paused to contemplate, and some times when I shook my head. 
Often I was moved by the beauty of a sentence or paragraph. Andrea Raynor describes experiences that we all know and understand: the meeting of a soul-friend, that moment when we are overwhelmed with praise to God, encountering the tangled forest of choices that appears beyond each bend in life's road. 

Some of the experiences she relates have such a quality of transcendence and beauty to them, you feel resonating in you while you read. Her first moments inside the old fire station that had been converted to a homeless shelter, The Pine Street Inn. 
The time she watched a friend discover his calling when his fingers first touched piano keys. 
Being part of meditation led by Henri Nouwen, where the joy and peace of God enveloped the room and flowed in and out of everyone present. 

This memoir gives you a window into a vibrant, seeking, learning, growing, community-building atmosphere, with all the messiness of real people doing real things. 

I don't agree with every conclusion the students came to, but there was much in this book that struck my heart, and that I want to remember. 
Here's one of my favorite quotes: "... an insignificant, random moment- the kind that appears when the light looks a certain way, or you stumble upon the smell of fresh cut grass, or an old song comes on the radio; the kind that makes you stop to linger in the wonder of it. These are some of the most important moments, because they are not obviously significant. When our minds latch onto one of these little snapshots and then spring it on us, like a bouquet of flowers whipped from behind someone's back out of the blue, it means there's some treasure buried there. I means we have preserved it... because it was lovely or revealed a sliver of holiness." 

Yep, there's a lot of pearls in this volume... both to quote and to think about. 
Thank you Howard Books for my review copy.

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