Book Review: The God Box

 
The full title of Mary Lou Quinlan's latest book is "The God Box: Sharing My Mother's Gift of Faith, Love and Letting Go." It's a small book, one that you can rush through in an hour or two, but it is a sweet treasure of remembrances of a loving mother. Mary Lou's mother, also called Mary, was a practical Catholic of the old school. Her go-to people were Jesus, Mary, St. Joseph (for help with real estate) St. Jude (for lost causes), St Francis (or animal-related issues) and St Anthony (to find lost items). But her real cause was being humble enough to request divine assistance after human help had run its course.

For the last twenty years of her life, Mary would use scraps of paper --  to-do notes, post-its or even drink coasters -- to write her simple prayers for health and happiness for herself, for her kids and for her many friends. Once written, she would fold them up and consign them to her latest "God Box," any small, special box or basket, and let divinity take over. After her death, her kids and husband found her God boxes and slowly unfolded the prayers of two decades of worries, health crises, job issues and requests for faith (for her kids) that had gone into the box. Mary Lou pieces together her Mom's prayers while coming to understand the resilient woman of faith, worries and personal secrets that made her who she was.

The book is sweet, with color photos of Mary's actual prayers, few more than 10 words long. It's a work of love, discovery and an attempt to reconnect with a much-loved presence, whom death has made painfully absent. There is no deep theology here -- just ordinary people grappling with loss and remembrance. "The God Box" is beautiful book for someone mourning the loss of a mother or wishing to connect with one who means so much.