Grace-filled Recommendation: Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett
As I stand once again in my kitchen, let out a sigh, and wipe yet another dirty pot after yet another home-cooked meal of the long streak of home-cooked meals of the long year of 2020, I think of Micha Boyett's memoir and try to shift my mind. In 2014 when poet, seeker, stay-at-home mom, and former youth ministry director Micha Boyett published her spiritual memoir Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer, she may have intended it to speak to tired moms looking to reframe the meaning of their everyday domestic tasks. Little could she predict that her memoir would indeed be a soothing balm for the madness of 2020’s pandemic where a forced cloistering invites a new audience of young moms to transform the mundane into the magical ordinary.
Transitions Push Us (It's so irritating, isn't it?)
Structured in section titles that follow the Benedictine monastic prayer schedule with chapters that track the church calendar, Boyett’s memoir focuses on her journey to rediscover and redefine her spirituality after becoming a mother and moving to San Francisco for her husband’s work, leaving her youth ministry career to devote her time to raising her son, August. Raised in an Evangelical Christian church in Amarillo, Texas, Boyett attended Syracuse University in New York to study poetry. There she met her husband, moving back to his home in Pennsylvania to raise their baby surrounded by family. Even as she worked in youth ministry, she struggled with the guilt of displeasing God by choosing to marry her husband and have a child rather than devote herself full-time to international missions work. However, these transitions all pushed her to re-examine everything--sounds a lot like 2020 to me.
"Do I believe there's some secret path to valuable, and I'm mindlessly skipping down the wrong one?" Micha Boyett, Found
Letting Go of Proving Our Worth
In the scope of her memoir, Boyett searches for her purpose and value as she struggles with the distraction, demands, and exhaustion that motherhood and a cross-country move bring. While she continues to be an active church-goer, she longs for an emotional connection with her spiritual life she once knew. Boyett attends two monastic spiritual retreats during the course of the memoir and hires a spiritual advisor, yet she still feels like she is not measuring up to the expectation she has for herself or God has for her. However, she continues to reframe her daily tasks in parallel ways to the life of the monastics that she encounters in her retreats, their monastic vows in faith being akin to the marriage and mother vows she has taken. Boyett connects to her own home-life the monastic values of simplicity, repetition, hospitality, and serving the collective good above self. The kids interrupt my thoughts as they take a lap, skipping around the kitchen island, and I remind myself of Boyett's monastic concept as I dry another dish.
"Blessing the work of our hands, a reminder of the Spirit's nearness." Micha Boyett, Found
Blessing the Work of Our Hands
Despite her struggles with her toddler, housework, and homesickness, Boyett strives for moments of prayer throughout the day as a way to refocus on God, yet these moments often bring more questions than clarity.Throughout her memoir Boyett juxtaposes everyday mundane motherly tasks with a rich reflective spiritual life. As Boyett pushes her son August on the swings at the park, her spiritual musings with a friend are continually interrupted by parental demands like supervising her son on the slide, breaking up a playground fight, or tending to her crying child. In doing so she brings the spiritual out of the church and the monastery and demonstrates through her example that prayer and spirituality can exist in the everyday ordinary.
The Poetic, Magical Ordinary
Boyett, whose background is in poetry, shines in lyrical moments in the memoir, yet her age and subsequent scope of this memoir make it best suitable for a young mother audience. She uses beautiful scenic imagery of both her Texas homeland and San Francisco; notably, Boyett creates out of the famous San Francisco fog metaphors for the confusion she feels as she internalizes the messages of society and her Evangelical faith that she needs to earn God’s approval.
“What am I rushing toward? Politeness? Do I hurry so that people will think I'm good enough, worthy enough? Micha Boyett, Found
You Just Found Your New Mom's Group Book
Book clubs, young adult church groups, or mothers looking for a comforting reflective narrative devotional would enjoy Boyett’s memoir, especially as more parents struggle under the domestic pressures of 2020’s pandemic quarantine. Her Bible verses, monastic allusions, and spiritual insights can speak directly to the exhausted moms and dads of today: “Jesus is asking you to sit beside him. Sit beside him and tell him why you’re tired” (Boyett 176).
“Jesus is asking you to sit beside him. Sit beside him and tell him why you're tired." Micha Boyett, Found
So, while cloistered in my home, with my swirl of the daily mundane ordinary, I can learn from Boyett’s spiritual search for forgiveness, purpose, grace, beauty, and even joy. I finish now my nightly dishes, take another sigh, this one a little lighter, and at least for the moment I, too, have found a way forward, despite all the mess.