cover image The Water Will Hold You: A Skeptic Learns to Pray

The Water Will Hold You: A Skeptic Learns to Pray

Lindsey Crittenden, . . Harmony, $22 (232pp) ISBN 978-0-307-34735-0

Ten years ago Crittenden walked timidly into an Episcopal church in Berkeley, Calif. Overwhelmed with grief, she needed something to sustain her. Therapy had helped her deal with her beloved younger brother's death, but it was not enough. A priest suggested prayer. In this exquisitely written memoir, she traces her experience of prayer from hesitant beginnings—"I left 'God' out of it, as I repeated the simple statement. 'You are here, I am here' "—to regular, disciplined practice. Prayer, she told an uncle, was like writing. "If I waited for inspiration, I'd never write a word.... I had to make prayer a habit, to go to it the way I went each morning to the desk. Not to summon prayer, but to tap into what was already there." Crittenden, whose essay on her mother's death appeared in Best American Spiritual Writing 2004 , faced repeated bereavement as she learned to trust God, herself and others. Nowadays, she writes, "being in community holds me like a trapeze harness for sailing out over the void." Fans of Nora Gallagher and Patricia Hampl will welcome her narrative of spiritual exploration and discovery. (Mar. 20)