Thursday, January 30, 2020

An Invisible Thread - Book Review

"An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance.  The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break."  ~ Ancient Chinese Proverb

Read an Excerpt
It began, for both the author and me, in much the same way.  We were two busy professional women, rushing past panhandlers, only to feel yanked back by an invisible thread.  Something we knew nothing about at the time, Laura Schroff in bustling Manhattan, and me in sleepy, rural Colorado, drew us to connect with individuals whose circles and lives were so far removed from our normal daily existence.

Was it destiny?  Perhaps.  All I know is that one instant of pausing to really see the person behind the sign became a moment of recognition.  For some reason, both Schroff and I were to have an awakening that came at the hands of destitution.

You never really see that coming—a whole new purpose born of paying attention, of listening, and of being drawn into the stories of those who have so little... those who are stereotyped as takers rather than givers.  This book review, of An Invisible Thread, is really the story within a story of how all of our lives are intertwined.

It seemed like any other ordinary day when Laura Scroff's life was profoundly, and forever, changed.  She had no intention of meeting up with a disadvantaged street child, but things that are meant to be tend to override executive sales agendas.

After initially passing up eleven-year-old Maurice, who asked Scroff for spare change because he was hungry, she found herself looking back over her shoulder at him, and then backpedaling to take Maurice to McDonald's for lunch.  This seemingly unassuming, one-time act of kindness then took on a life of its own.  Over Big Macs and fries, Laura and Maurice launched what would become a lifelong friendship.  Through months, and then years, of weekly meal dates and life-enriching experiences, these two became chosen family.

As one who had grown up with abuse, Schroff could empathize, and feel great compassion for this young boy who was attempting to survive the most extreme poverty—a poverty that extended well beyond that of hunger and lack of safe shelter.  Surrounded by drug-addled adults who were emotionally unavailable to nurture him, and living by his wits alone, Maurice's poverty went soul deep.

Though her friends and colleagues warned her off, thinking Schroff's outreach to Maurice was too risky, Laura's commitment to, and bond with him would not, and could not, be broken.  This would not turn out to be a one-way charity case.  It became a mutually beneficial friendship that transformed and healed both individuals.

He Shared His Story With Me Over a Subway Sandwich
Those who follow my Facebook postings know that I interact with homeless individuals on a daily basis.  It isn't something I would ever have thought would become a mission for me.  I just felt compelled one day to stop and listen to the personal story of the man behind one of those panhandling signs.

I Felt Compelled to Stop and Let Kindness Connect Us
I don't even like the word panhandler because of its negative connotation.  Doesn't it spark labels of beggar, or for some people, even something as ugly as loser?  I've seen and heard those drive-by insults when standing on a corner checking up on one of my homeless friends.  You know... the guy who rolls down his window and shouts, "Get a job, loser!"

Perhaps We Are All Living on a Prayer
What Laura and I found, when really getting to know the person holding that piece of cardboard in his hands, was a whole new way of living... a whole new way of perceiving those willing to bare their vulnerable souls to a public that isn't always very welcoming to them.  We both discovered, and opened up, the gifts of these beautiful souls.  We became the recipients of change that is not spare.

I highly recommend An Invisible Thread, not because it has been a New York Times bestseller, but because of its focus on kindness and goodness.  Do I believe there is an invisible thread?  Oh, yes... absolutely... and I am so thankful for those on the other end of my thread.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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16 comments:

  1. Because you have been following your own invisible thread, Diana,I can see why this book appealed to you. I think many of us find ourselves giving to those in need in one way or another. But the personal one-on-one approach is always special.

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    1. I knew that my friends would totally see the draw of this book. In many ways, it feels like the next book I should, or will, write. These are the stories that need to come to light. They are so full of the humanity that make us whole.

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  2. Wow! Diana, What a powerful review. You have brought tears to my eyes. It's like a review of your own life with your kindness and compassion for humanity. The world needs more like you.

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    1. And 'wow' right back to you, Sam, for bringing tears to my eyes with your beautiful affirmation. I'm glad you are in my world. I can see your tender, caring spirit.

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  3. What a powerful message! Thank you for sharing in so many ways Diana. The world is a better place when individuals act out of kindness whether they are dealing with the homeless, or just each other. I've always known that God placed certain people in our path. I am, of course, reminded of "entertaining angels unaware". This does sounds like a wonderful book where clearly two lives were changed by what started with one simply act of kindness.

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    1. I am with you. I don't believe in chance when it comes to crossing paths with others. We are meant to come into one another's lives for a reason.

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  4. Wonderful review Diana. I so admire your willingness to help those in need both human and animal! God bless you.

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    1. This outreach blesses me mightily, Mary Beth. Thank you!

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  5. Diana dear, it's clear that recognizing that part of your life's purpose is to reach out to people with the misfortune to be homeless and with humanity, compassion and kindness has been a blessing for you as much as for them. Just interacting with them as fellow human beings, rather than as "homeless people," must make a world of difference to these unfortunate individuals who are so seldom "seen" by most of the people who pass them by. I can see why you were immediately drawn to this book and look forward to reading it as well. Thank you for being you, dear friend.

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    1. Yes... they are not their label. Once we throw out the "tags" that say who they are to society (homeless, panhandlers, poor, jobless, mentally ill, addicts, etc.), they can just be who they are. I never cease to be amazed at how different each individual is from who they are assumed to be. They are delightful, beautiful, generous, smart, resourceful, caring, precious people. They have great worth. They hurt, they bleed, they ache for belonging and connection. They bless my life in really significant ways.

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  6. You are the living example of the theme and message of this book. You're kind nature shines through all you do. What a magnificent book. I have a friend who would absolutely love this book. She's not one to shy away from homeless souls and has given many a helping hand on her outings downtown. Again, without the reviews on reviewthisreviews I wouldn't know this book existed. Thank you for the introduction to it.

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    1. I appreciate your kind comments. Thank you! Your friend sounds so lovely. I wonder if she has read this book?

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  7. So far I've only personally interacted with a few homeless people I didn't already know. When someone who did odd jobs for us became homeless overnight a few years ago, we invited him to live with us when he had nowhere else to go. He became a close friend. He was friendly, helpful, and had many skills. It wasn't long before he had a job and was able to rent a room elsewhere. I was sorry when he left. A homeless woman is currently living in our former home rent free and the relationship is much harder. Her brother was a close friend and had been looking out for her. He was the only one in her family whom she could get along with. He died a few years ago. We felt we owed it to him to help his widowed sister out when she lost her job. She is a difficult person to get along with and that may be one reason she is homeless. We are praying she will be able to find another home soon, since she's been in our house for over a year now.

    The book sounds interesting. It might help me understand how to strike up a conversation with a homeless person I don't know. I'm never sure what to say. I have a lot to learn.

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    1. What I usually do to strike up a conversation is to bring a bag of lunch (like a Subway sandwich), and over a meal, ask them to tell me their story. They always want to share and typically tell me much more than I would ever have expected them to share. I have found that most homeless individuals are hungry for connection and want nothing more than to be seen and heard. The individuals I have come to know are really interesting and it is easy to care about them. I usually just ask them what would make the biggest difference for them today. I ask what is their most pressing current need and try to help be a solution to that need. Sometimes I can't solve the need, but at least they know I care. Thank you for all you are doing to assist others. It is a continual learning process to discover how best to be present for those who are struggling.

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    2. Thank you for those suggestions.

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  8. Diana, you are one in a million and your light shines for all of us to see. What a lovely book choice and I'm sure it is one that I can really get into. when we sto judging and learn to smile at another human without any preconditions, the world becomes a better place instantly.....thanks for this book review. It's now on my list of must reads.

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