Enuma Okuro’s “Reluctant Pilgrim”

 

You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.– Saint Augustine, in the Confessions

Earlier this year I attended a women’s retreat led by spiritual writer Enuma Okuro. When I first signed up for the retreat, I knew almost nothing about Enuma, but I wanted to meet other women in my latest experiment with finding a church home, and the lure of meeting another spiritual writer in the flesh was more than I could resist.

The weekend retreat was a good experience, and one of the many blessings was seeing Enuma in action. She has what I would call a genuine spiritual presence in an honest, creative, and faithful-to-God way. I couldn’t get over the way she got all of us engaged in creative activities and sharing despite the fact that hardly any of us would normally think of ourselves as very “creative” or “artistic.” 

More recently, I finally had the chance to read Enuma’s book Reluctant Pilgrim–and, frankly, all I can say is, wow.

I don’t want to tell you too much about the book because I think it’s better to read it without a lot of preconceived ideas. However, the subtitle gives the main focus of the book: A Moody, Somewhat Self-Indulgent Introvert’s Search for Spiritual Community. Enuma hungers for God, but calls herself “half-graced” because, although she was baptised Catholic, she was never confirmed and feels she is missing something, the adult faith commitment and the feeling of belonging to a community of believers. But, to what church should she go? Where will she find a spiritual home, a faith community? To say her background is varied is an understatement. Although her first years of memory were spent in Queens, New York, she is never quite sure how to explain where she is “from”:

Once we moved back to West Africa, I was introduced to my first mosque, and the rest of my early childhood was lost in a whirling dervish of Hail Marys and muezzin cries to holy prayer. I was raised by a Catholic father, an Anglican, somewhat evangelical mother, and endless Muslim aunts, who called on both Jesus and Allah within the same breath, depending on the circumstances. I ran into God beneath the billowing skirts of Catholicism and Islam while learning the cultural steps of being a foreigner in my native country. When people ask me where I’m from, I fumble for answers, take a deep breath, and exhale with, “I was born in the States, but my parents are Nigerian, and I grew up in four different countries. But currently I live in (insert current city of residence) so that’s where I’m from, I guess. (page 17)

Reluctant Pilgrim is a fresh look at the Christian journey in the midst of today’s multicultural, multi-religious, multi-spiritual and even doubting world. It taps into the human hunger for God with the frank admission that we often resist this hunger, and our spiritual communities often seem–at least on the surface–lacking this hunger for union with the divine. 

To get a small taste of this book and Enuma’s honest, creative style, view the YouTube trailer below. I found myself pondering the spiritual mystery of God and God’s presence in others just watching the preview!

(If this YouTube video does not print in your email subscription, just google “Reluctant Pilgrim” and “YouTube” and look for the trailer.)

Until next time, Amen!

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