It’s the plain-speak that I notice—and admire—immediately in Jennifer Grant’s new book, Wholehearted: Five-Minute Reflections for Modern Moms. Grant, a writing colleague and friend, has written a collection of 365 meditations, and they succeed in being thoughtful and wise without being overly ponderous. I like Grant’s sentences in the way I like crisp, freshly ironed sheets. Of course I don’t iron my sheets, and neither does Grant, if the introduction, entitled “Good Enough and Perfectly Okay” says anything. But perhaps I mean to say there’s simple beauty and hospitality in her words, without all the pretension. “[We] are wrought with contradiction,” Grant affirms on January 2, and that seems like a surprisingly simply but most assuredly graceful way to begin a year. Let’s tell the truth about who we are.
“We often don’t notice how self-absorbed we are,” Grant writes on June 5. “At least I don’t. I feel entitled to resentment if someone has truly hurt me. If my thoughts generally center on my own well-being, I chalk it up to having healthy self-esteem. And when my conscience is snagged by the fact that so many people in the world live in poverty, I look away and remind myself that I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got. (And, as you know, my dad left when I was young. It’s not a picnic being me.”) There’s wit in here, too, keeping company with the sober self-reflection. I like how Grant can celebrate the transformative work that is ongoing and yet unfinished in her, reminding herself and us that this being-made-new thing isn’t a process to be hurried. We have to be patient with the days, with ourselves, with the Spirit alive in us.
Each day’s meditation features a pithy quote, a short story, and then a question for reflection. The entire collection is divided into three main parts: Reflect, Risk, and Rest. Each month has its own theme: January—Patience, August—Trust, October—Playfulness. If you’re looking for a devotional that is robustly biblical, guiding you deeply into Scriptural meditation each day, this probably isn’t the one. But if you’re looking to buy for yourself—or give to a friend—a book that eases you into the practice of mindfulness, cultivates a holy awareness in the everyday, and nudges you toward habits like forgiveness and gratitude, then Wholehearted is exactly what you’re looking for.
“One of my favorite hymns is “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light,” Grant writes on December 26th. “I like the hymn’s simplicity and unabashed focus on the ‘I’ of the believer, who, singing it, admits to just taking reticent, hopeful steps toward Christ. Singing this hymn gives me permission to be a child of faith, excuses me from complex and controversial theological arguments, and lets me express what-at the very core of me-I desire.”