Because I’ve been following Dorcas’ blog for years, I’ve already read all the pieces she has in the book. So I’d read the delightful story of the footprint and initials, but had forgotten about it.
That’s one of the reasons I like this book: I get to revisit the lovely stories I’ve already read, but their details are hazy in my brain.
Footprints on the Ceiling, as all her other four books, are compilations of Dorcas’ monthly newsletter pieces. As I read this book, I repeatedly was amazed at Dorcas’ skill in organizing the stories to make them fit perfectly into this new setting. And the sections correspond with the title: kinds of footwear that connect with parts of life: children, change, forebears, travel, reflecting.
What I love about these stories is that they are filled with quirkiness and color. The lines that emerge when you turn the page are not what you expect, and even if you’ve read the blog posts before, you’re still surprised and amused. For example, the waddling Canada goose in the opening paragraph in “A Knack for the Absurd” had me in giggles until the end of the chapter.
Though there’s a lovely light-heartedness all through-out, the book isn’t all jokes and silliness. Dorcas thinks deeply and processes well, but she keeps her own advice and (usually) doesn’t take herself too seriously. This is a trait that I find endearing and inspiring.
There are tears in the stories too. I cried at the beauty of a family wedding that celebrated deep joy and healing after shattering loss and grief. Dorcas’ world-view doesn’t get stuck in pain and she lives in the reality that stories do go on, and it won’t always be dark and gloomy, so her words birthed hope in me.
Dorcas loves her family well, with fierce loyalty and service to her husband and children and extended family. She always blogs with great respect and love for her father who lived with them last summer, and in the book writes warmly of her mom’s character and legacy since her death. The stories are honest, but not voyeuristic. They are candid, but not at the expense of someone’s dignity. So we know that these Smuckers are normal people who fight and make up, and make messes and lose things but at the end of the day they don’t stay mad and they keep talking things out. Which is what every healthy relationship is made of, especially the family, God’s ideal social structure.
This is probably the quality that brings readers back to Dorcas’ stories: it’s real life. No fluff, no fancy-schmancy lingo. Forget the idea of blankety-blank Amish novels. Last winter when I was teaching at CBS, the chapter about Bible schools came out, and it was so on-the-money that it made the rounds to all the teachers. We completely identified with the rules, unspoken rules, and laughed knowingly about the signs God sends. Her novel, when it comes, will be made of the same colorful, earthy, human stuff, and I can’t wait!
For now, Dorcas is giving away a signed copy of Footprints on the Ceiling. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below. I’ll close it next Wednesday, Dec.3, and you should get it in time for Christmas–a treat for yourself or a friend! This is going to be a double give-away, in that Dorcas will send a copy to the winner in the US. But if you live in Europe, you’ll be eligible for my copy. Isn’t that fun?!
Footprints on the Ceiling is available for $15 per book, postage included. You can mail a check to Dorcas Smucker, 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446. US addresses only. To send a copy to Canada or overseas, email Dorcas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or find it on Amazon here