I’m exhausted in the most beautiful way.
Fred and I completed six weeks of book tour with Saffron Cross—all while maintaining our day jobs and our sanity. Three states, eight flights, and 13 events later—we’re still married and in one piece.
Last weekend we crashed, succumbing to three airport’s worth of colds and flu.
“How do bands tour for years?” I posed to Fred, when even my travel-loving, extroverted self was feeling weary.
“Drugs, Dana. They do lots of drugs,” Fred said.
Ah. Now I get it.
During the winter of the creative process, when first draft prose was crappy and flat and felt like it would never come back to life—I dreamt of launching Saffron Cross. I envisioned the publication date, the tour, and lifted up fervent prayers that someone would read it—anyone in addition to my mother—and it kept my fingers moving on the keyboard.
I pictured all of you—the ideal readers—hoping you’d be as moved by getting to know someone of another faith as I had been to live it.
My dreams burst forth into reality when we launched Saffron Cross on October 2nd at Binkley Church—and the gathering far exceeded my best daydreams. Over 100 folks from all walks of our lives attended: family, childhood friends, best friends, members of our faith communities, our mentors, co-workers, and friends from the community.
I never imagined there would be this much support for Saffron Cross. And that was just the beginning. Weeks later, we’d learn the extent of the enthusiasm, and we’d feel the connectedness as we met new groups of people longing to go deep in their own traditions while learning from others.
Here are the 3 incredible lessons I learned from this launch and tour:
Lesson #1: Hospitality Abounds
I gained at least three pounds as we shared meals and laughter with our hosts, including the Upper Room Books team, Pete and Magda at the Beasley House, Vanderbilt, Millsaps College, and Salem College faculty and staff, as well as community members and residents.
Our meals ran the gamut: our hosts shared theological inquiries, stories, smiles, holy moments of vulnerability—personal memories or interfaith encounters. Eating together reminded me of the Eucharist, where, at the table, we celebrate our unity and our need.
Folks let us in—offering sacred glimpses into their lives, their communities, and faith journeys. We will never forget their hospitality!
Lesson #2: To Be Human is to have a Story
From bookstores to universities to houses of worship—everyone we met had a story.
Some stories boasted decades of harmonized interfaith living—and others shared hardship, like the young Muslim woman we met dating a gentleman whose family practices Orthodox Judaism and doesn’t approve of their match.
In Jackson, Mississippi, clergy and residents shared civil rights era heartache that is still real and raw—memories of integrating and reconciling churches amid decades of racism.
We met fellow North Carolinians who shared stories of working hard to get to know their interfaith and interdenominational neighbors.
Young student leaders at the colleges and universities we traveled to shared eager journeys of being open to exploring the many ways in which God shows up for everyone.
Community members from the Jewish, Humanist, Hindu, and Christian traditions willingly sought to have sincere conversation with fellow Jacksonians on an interfaith discussion panel.
Everyone had a story.
Stories are always the way in. They help us connect and feel human. I’ve known this all my life—from my favorite books to films that move me to tears—but now I know that we are all part of a story—interfaith or otherwise. We simply have to take the leap and be vulnerable enough to share. When we do, we knit ourselves into the fabric that is the human story.
Lesson #3: I Can Never Express Enough Gratitude
I’m still in the first-time author phase where I barely believe that all this is happening. I spent one year huddled in my writing hole, fervently chipping away on Saffron Cross, praying that someone would connect with this book, and it seems that that is happening.
Folks have emailed to share the ways in which Saffron Cross has engaged them. They’ve posted photos and written reviews on Amazon. Journalists have shared our story in the national public square; bloggers have shared our experiences, readers have left their comments of encouragement and awe.
It takes a team to birth and share a book; I cannot express enough gratitude to:
- Fresh Air Books/Upper Room Books
- McClure/Muntsinger Public Relations
- Binkley Baptist Church in Chapel Hill
- Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill
- The Regulator Bookshop in Durham
- Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville
- Parnassus Books in Nashville
- Upper Room Chapel in Nashville
- Vanderbilt University
- Coffee Hound Bookshop in Louisburg, NC
- Salem College
- Millsaps College
- The Hindu Temple Society of Jackson, MS
- The Reidsville Book Club
In just six short weeks, I’ve learned that hospitality is real, our stories are these stuff of our human journeys, and that my cup overflows.
Share Your Thoughts
Were you moved by Saffron Cross? We’d be honored if you’d share your impressions on Amazon. Your words may encourage someone to consider reading the about interfaith encounters who would have never done so otherwise. We hope you’ll recommend Saffron Cross to your friends. Thank you!
Spring 2014 Events
And, not to worry, the book tour will on! Check out our schedule to see what’s planned for spring and summer 2014. We’d love to visit your college, university, church, or gathering. If you’re interested in proposing an event, please email Dana.
But for now, it’s time to catch our breaths, reflect on lesson learned, and express gratitude. Namaste.