Book Review: Waking up the Karma Fairy: Life Lessons and Holy Adventures

Have you ever read a book and thought, that author and I just get one another; if only we could meet in real life, we’d be besties. Yet, the people who act on such a thought are usually considered stalkers, so you just keep this thought in a special part of your brain that doesn’t get out much.

No? Just me?

Well, if we’re still being honest, I have this feeling in that special part of my brain about Meg Barnhouse, a Unitarian minister, who seems like the loveliest human being, also oh so wise and learned, yet humble and figuring life out, just like the rest of us. You should really do yourself a favor and just read her stories and adventures, woven into the fabric of life and just being human. The rest of this blog post are some of my favorite quotes and a bit of commentary …

On what it means to be alive, she says …

Life, says Zen therapist David K. Reynolds, is “playing ball on running water.” Dynamic equilibrium. In order to keep my feet under me, I have to remember where I am.

On how she knew her father loved her, she says …

The process of building with him—the pleasure, the companionship, the burn—is what shaped me. Building my own castles now with my children, I keep in mind that they are not forever. This feels like love.

On how her mother dealt with the limitations of being a lady, she said …

Back at the campfire, we sang, told stories, and had belching contests. Mama always won. Real ladies know when to take a break from ladyhood. I wonder who wins the belching contests around Queen Elizabeth’s campfire?

On competition in the game of life, she says …

I did the best I knew how to do. That’s the whole point. That’s what I have to bite into first.

On the power of the mind and focus, she says …

Aikido master Wendy Palmer says, in The Intuitive Body, that when you pay attention to something, you get the energy of that thing.

On what is the most important thing to her, she says …

My treasures are my children, my lover, my church. They aren’t as simple as my bear. I have given my heart to people I can’t carry with me everywhere I go, and that feels risky. Loving my things would be safer than this. So far I’m choosing the risky path, though, and love is returning to me strong and deep. I’m getting big hugs and laughing afternoons and arguments and teaching times and challenges and frights and worries and pride and uncertainty and, now and then, I get to dance or fly around and save my friends from the bad guys.

On grieving and missing people and things and yet being alive, she says …

I want to let this lesson sink deep into me. Celebrate the body, the trooper of a body that carries you through life, that pleasures you and lets you dance. Celebrate your body now, before you have lost the weight, before you get your muscle definition, before you feel justified by the harsh eyes of your expectations. Celebrate being alive, drawing breath, celebrate that you are achingly sad today and that it will pass. It is good to be able to feel feelings. Celebrate that there was a love so big and good that it hurt to lose it. That there was a time so sweet that you ache, remembering it. Honor the flowering of the tomato plants, the opening of the day lilies, the lemon smell of magnolias. Honor the ache of your heart and the tears falling. Life is mostly ordinary time. Ordinary time shot through with light and pain and love. Lavish joy on ordinary time. Hope is a wonderful thing. It is good to imagine a time when things will be better, but not if it makes you put off splashing yourself with Joy.

On relationships, she says …

We keep trying to figure out a way to speak to each other about life and God and love and death and other unfathomables. I’ll keep trying, if you will.

On being the mother she is with the children she has, she says …

Into that lovely perfect picture my six-year-old son will probably draw flaming bombs dropping from the lady’s tiny kite. I will laugh and clap for him. He and his brother are not blurry and golden. They are sharp and tangy and real. That’s the kind of mother I want to be. Yeah, that’ll fly.

On how she is raising her boys to be good men, she says …

At the dinner table I will sometimes say, “Yes, you may be excused . . . after you ask everyone at the table two questions.” They are getting better at it. It still feels sometimes like I’m tormenting them, but that’s okay. I’m their mom. Tormenting them is my job.

On saying no, she says …

I think there is a place and a time to be a quitter. Just because it’s time to leave something doesn’t mean it was never any good. Things have a life: a beginning, a middle, and an end. The end is the time to quit. Sometimes a situation is bad for you. That’s when you know it’s time to run out into the street and look for another place, or another way, to be, where you can be blessed, where you can be a blessing.

On growing as a human being, she says …

We are all blind to our own blind spots.

On losing her mother to metastatic breast cancer, she says …

She never did tell the truth about dying. Her faith won out over experience and common sense. I don’t know if that made it easier for her. I hope it did. It was not easier for me. She didn’t talk about dying until right at the end. She called me at seminary and said, “I think the Lord is taking me.” A kind student drove me the hour and a half home, and I got to sleep by her sofa through that last night. She died the next morning early. We never said good-bye.

On being told what God’s Will is for her, by another person, she says …

It is also an awkward theological situation, when someone tells you what God wants you to do. Fortunately, my father had thought to warn me about this very thing. He said, “If God has something in mind for you, he will tell you about it, so if any guy tries to tell you that it is God’s will for you two to get together, tell him you’ll wait for God to tell you about it.”

On what is important, she says …

We must insist. Love, not fear, is spoken here. Love, not fear, is spoken here. Love, not fear, is spoken here.

She ends the epilogue in this way …

The knowledge that you are reading this book is exploding like showers of light over my head. It makes me grin from ear to ear. I hope these stories have been bits of falling light for you too, and that you were looking up at just the right time.

I did not include her commentary on unconditional love because that in and of itself is a good reason to read her book and meet your new best friend. ;). See, I’m not the only one with stalkerish tendencies.

14 thoughts on “Book Review: Waking up the Karma Fairy: Life Lessons and Holy Adventures

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I am definitely adding it to my tbr. Having read quite a bit of David K. Reynolds in the past, you may have caught me with that quote. It’s certainly not everyday I see him quoted. And I love her thoughts on life. What a beautiful reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so happy you read it! I thought you would appreciate it! There’s also one called Radio Bubba, and some music. She’s also a songwriter and musician, and some of her recordings are her telling her story, like my favorite one: the Karma Fairy. 😂 When she commented on my reference to this story recently, it was funny that I could hear her saying her response with her accent. 😂 Her accent is PERFECT for her stories!

    Did you send her this? If not, I’m assuming you don’t mind if I do? If you get the chance, listen to her CD’s. Her voice is really calming. She is also a retired therapist. (Of course you get her. She’s just like you with a thousand things she’s doing all at once… lol)

    She did an entire album with songs based on different psychiatric issues, really meant as satire and they are cute! Also, one song she did that I find myself listening to a LOT lately, is “All Will Be Well.” It’s so good for this time period, though it was written years ago.

    I miss seeing her live for a full week when we went to the Unitarian Universalist church camp. She was a regular there. Her partner is in a band called Wishing Chair, and they pulled Madyson on stage with them when she was about 10.

    Such a great group of women. Another amazing one, especially music wise, but with the same “you feel like she gets you” personality, is Amy Carol Webb. You can listen to her on YouTube to get a taste. It’s very REAL stuff, but so incredibly great messages, always. I had her music playing on loop for the first two years of Kennedy’s life. Lol (Not only hers, but a LOT of hers.)

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. I went to open it and thought I hit the wrong tab when I saw her book. I did a double take to make sure I was seeing her stuff with your name. Lol It really made me smile that you liked it that much!

    (And I didn’t remember she lost her mother to breast cancer. One of those weird coincidences… if you believe in those. 😉♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Abigail, What a lovely book review. I love the quotations. The author sounds wise and approachable. I don’t think she would mind you stalking her at all. Everyone loves sincere fans. It would give you both a lot of pleasure to chat and become real friends. Have a wonderful rest of your day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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