IVP Books, 136 pages
Reviewed by Deborah McKinley
The thread running through “The Seamless Life” is best described in the book’s dedication: “For my grandchildren, longing that you will live into the vision of a seamless life, a coherence between who you are and why you are, giving meaning to what you do with the lives that are yours.” The essays are reflections on the question: “What does it mean to live seamlessly? … The deepest and truest meaning of vocation is to understand that our longing for coherence is born of our truest humanity, a calling into the reality that being human and being holy are one and the same life.”
All of us seek coherence — a straight line between who we are created to be and how we live our lives/what we do with each day. If we aren’t seeking coherence intentionally, we desire it because our lives are out of whack or because we’re experiencing dissonance. The line between who we are created to be and how we live our lives is rarely straight. It often takes a turn, makes a circle, goes on a detour. These essays encourage us to keep seeking coherence.
This lovely little book is a series of short essays punctuated by photographs, many taken by the author himself. The photographs magnify the message of the essays they accompany. The essays span personal life to corporate life. How does an individual develop a set of core values that are in keeping with their created self — values that will necessarily be in keeping with the good of the created order? And how does one best live out their core values? How does a corporation do the same? How does a corporation develop a set of values based in the common good and not simply the shareholders’ good? Does that make for good economics? And how does a corporation best live out those core values? How does a citizenry do the same? These are some of the important questions raised by Steven Garber — directly and indirectly.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic laid upon us the question: How do we ensure we live as our best selves when a pandemic hits and after the pandemic leaves? The pandemic has so disrupted life that it has challenged our capacity for living seamlessly. There is much beyond our control and there are greater constraints than we’ve known in quite some time. Though written well before COVID-19 was on the world’s radar, Garber’s book reminds us that it is our core values, our “true north,” that guides us and grounds us, allowing us to have integrity and to be creative within constraints. That’s one reason this gem is an important book. Garber’s reflections on vocation are expansive and grounding “for such a time as this.”
This is not a book to read in one sitting. This is a book to be savored, soaking in one essay at a time, as there is a great deal of depth in Garber’s reflections. I commend it to spur your own reflections. What’s your true north and how do you remain true to it in all of your life?
Deborah McKinley is pastor of East Craftsbury Presbyterian Church in Craftsbury, Vermont.