Linda Lawrence Hunt
Tasora Books, 152 pages
Reviewed by Nancy T. Fox
“Soul Space” provided a gracious space for my own soul in the company of the grieving. Initially, I just wanted to know more of how long-time friends Linda and Jim Hunt had, from their wreckage of grief, built a thriving nonprofit, nurtured the garden of gardens and transformed an old barn into “The Hearth,” a guest lodge with themed rooms that span the globe and provide space for connecting with God and other guests. While I savored a slow journey through the book’s abundant photos and lovely prose, I was battered by frequent updates about my little brother’s cancer that is snatching him away at a dizzying rate. “Soul Space” reminded me that though things are not as they ought to be, God’s creation was a garden of shalom and God, who is restoring that fully-orbed flourishing, restores us as we join in that work.
The subtitle, “Creating Places and Lives that Make a Difference,” may make the book sound like a how-to. It is not a how-to, but a story that began when the Hunts’ 25-year-old daughter Krista died in a bus crash on a remote mountainside in Bolivia. Krista and her new husband were in Bolivia to serve and work alongside the poor. This story has become transformational for others because Linda and Jim decided to remember Krista “with more than tears.” Jesus told stories about seeds — when they die they bear much fruit. Linda shares how she and Jim gathered up and planted the seeds of their grief into a legacy for Krista’s desire “to show God’s love in actions” with The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship. The Foundation has now supported over 300 select 20-somethings for a year of service, including training in best practices of development, cross-cultural skills, support and debriefing for their journeys. The book includes photos and inspiring stories of many of these diverse student leaders. They are “lives that make a difference,” but just part of Krista’s legacy.
Jim and Linda are also planting and nurturing literal seeds — producing and maintaining the most wondrous of home gardens. I have enjoyed many of the garden’s blessings that the book describes: the glory of seasonal changes, enticing scents, tart berries and splashing water as children play in the waterfall and pools. The photos and memorials, plant names and descriptions that vine through the book will inspire gardeners, but cannot quite succeed in immersing the senses as only an actual garden can do.
Having also experienced the hospitality of The Hearth, I enjoyed the stories of how it came together. But any reader will find inspiration for a special project of their own, especially in the frame of the seven blessings that the Hunts’ support community prayed into the building project. These blessings (or prayers) for comfort, counsel, challenges, conversation, contemplation, compassion and confidence/courage, along with other quotes, recipes and spiritual practices give the book structure while providing a valuable resource.
The interwoven stories of “Soul Space” partake in the scandal of the incarnation — that we meet the Holy One in specific stories, in service, in a seat by the hearth or in a garden. This is where we find shalom — the way the world should be.
Nancy T. Fox is parish associate at National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., and president of the board of trustees of The Outreach Foundation.