As I think about the work of Sharon Garlough Brown this week, and how her books developed, it makes me consider how community is formed and maintained. Talking with Sharon on the podcast about the characters in her books reminds me of how often I learn by example. Many times the example has been characters in great works of fiction, or lives written about in great biographies. Books have led me to many places as well as to go deeper in the care of my own soul.

Recently my husband Mike and I took a vacation with stops along the way involving friends. One stop was spent enjoying the generosity of friends who offered us their cottage for a couple of night’s stay. Another stop reunited us with friends who’d moved out of town. Friends who were formerly part of community we saw regularly. As retirement took them to a new location, Mike and I started talking about how we foster and grow community. Friends that move away are not replaceable. We have fond memories of them and the ability to travel and visit them from time to time. It is important to continually develop new relationships as well as take current ones to new and deeper levels while there is opportunity. I appreciated watching the characters from Sensible Shoes grow and develop and face difficulties along the way. Both physical and relational hardships. Courage rose in me as I watched them handle things well, and courage rose in me to handle some of my own relationship strife in a better way than I had in the past.

My college literature professor and longtime friend Dr. Rosalie de Rosset firmly believes we can learn deeply from the pages of good literature. I’ve found it to be true, and Sharon Garlough Brown simply underscores that truth through Sensible Shoes and now Two Steps Forward.

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