A Phone Tree Book Club Feature: Letters from Ruby, Week 1
“Calvin traced the loops and lines of Ruby’s signature. It was graceful and beautiful without being ostentatious. Like its owner, thought Calvin. He ran his finger along the signature a second time. Wishing you all good things…”
Q & A: Prologue – Chapter 4
1) At the beginning of this book, we are informed that the young Rev. Calvin Harper is in the process of settling into his new home in Boston. As he stops to take a break from hanging photos, he unexpectedly finds a collection of envelopes held together by a rubber band. The envelopes are addressed to him. The salutation greets him personally.
Question: When you look to the Bible, the Holy Spirit-inspired collection of words from the LORD, have you ever viewed it as a personal letter, if you will, from the Most High to you?
2) A wave of self-pity and self-righteous lamentation overwhelmed Calvin pretty early on when he realized his position. He felt isolated and alone, much like a stranger in a strange land.
Question: What do you think it says about your faith and belief in God if you find yourself overwhelmed or heavily burdened by your circumstances?
3) Ruby’s letters were intimate, revealing and so full of simple wisdom. She wrote, “You think you have all the time in the world to get to know someone, but a year, two years, fifty years – it’s never enough. There is always something you never said out loud, although you always meant to. It hides somewhere in your heart waiting for the right moment to be said. Sometimes you miss the moment. Sometimes you don’t realize there was anything still hidden until it’s too late to uncover.”
Question: What do Ruby’s words mean to you as it relates to the concept of relationships? (This could be associated with the relationship you have with God or the relationship you have with a family member or significant other.)
4) The four cardiganed ladies – the Mary Magdalenes – met Calvin at the start of his ministry. They each had their own distinct personality. For all the good they did, there were still some definite traces of staunch traditionalism and rigidity concerning the extension of grace in one of the ladies, in particular – the matriarch.
Question: Is traditionalism more important than the things of God?
5) Open secrets were revealed to be something everyone knows but no one says anything about.
Question: What is the danger of having secrets of any kind?
6) When the church of old was faced with the dilemma concerning who their church was named after, they came to an impasse. The “pet issue” became the hot topic and focus of the day, and energy was deflected to it even though it was unimportant in the scheme of things.
Question: Do you think the work of the church gets hindered or bogged down because of pet issues? Why?
7) “…prayer is prayer whether you know I’m doing it or not…”
Question: Is it more important that you pray or that others know you are praying/have prayed?
8) Ruby lets Calvin know that memories aren’t all nice and shiny.
Question: Do you find it difficult to move past your not so nice and shiny memories?
9) After a particularly chilly moment with Esther Rose, Calvin draws encouragement from Ruby’s words. “You can’t take responsibility for how other people react to what you say. But you can think about how they will hear your words.”
Question: Why is it that we often try to take ownership of how people react? (Reflect on Mark 12:30-31.)
10) Chapter four ends with a letter from Ruby in which she talks about times being lean for her. She goes on to say that her past is a much more pleasant place than her present.
Question: Can you relate to what Ruby is saying in her letter?
Reading Assignment for Week 2: Read chapters 5-8. (Q & A posted on 5/13/14)