A COLLECTION OF WEDNESDAYS provides interesting insights and reflections, written by a woman on the young side of middle age. Amy Gaither Hayes is a busy wife, mother, drama teacher and performer, and yet for some years she has tried to set aside a bit of Wednesday morning to write. As published, the Wednesday selections seem not to be addressed to herself or her God but to a public readership, on topics such as “Passion,” “Calling,” “Sand,” “Children,” “Dinner,” “Rest” and “Posse.”
Would this book have been published if Amy weren’t the daughter of well-loved musicians Bill and Gloria Gaither? Maybe not. Its best bet is with those who know and appreciate the family’s reputation and music and poetic legacy. By and large, it isn’t about her childhood memories, though a few delightful moments stand out: riding in the car with a dad who sings her a note he calls 1 (do, as in do-re-mi) and asking her to sing him a 3 (mi) or maybe a 7 (ti). A “Wisdom” chapter discusses wisdom she has discovered in various venues: in spiritual reading, in a spiritual director, “Other times it is the question of a new believer that brings life and truth into our midst.” Then the story focuses on the quiet life of her paternal grandfather. A final chapter about a recent Gaither Thanksgiving gathering also draws on and draws out the family bonds.
As a teen and young woman, Amy maintained a correspondence with Madeleine L’Engle, a friendship that serves as the centerpiece of a “Mentor” chapter.
By far the longest chapter, “Books,” is way too long. Most of it is an annotated list of “books that saved my life,” though way before the end of its 15-plus pages, it loses its immediacy. It reads more like a subjective “books I read and liked” list, which would have worked better as an appendix.
Each chapter ends with one or two poems written by Amy. I particularly liked “Banana Bread,” which is tangentially related to the chapter theme of “Church,” which in her anecdotal context refers to a Sunday-night house church hosted by her and her husband. One element of the house church setting is, surprisingly, a jigsaw puzzle, around which people gather as they wait for others and also after the service, at which time “Chatter became talk. Talk turned into confidences and confessions. Prayer began.”
Amy asks: “How can a puzzle be such a force for creating community, bringing down defenses, and encouraging confession?”
The book’s subtitle itself references the metaphor of a puzzle: “creating a whole from the parts.” Each chapter adds a new piece of the picture, of a woman’s life that is grounded in Christ and blossoming in the beauty of the arts.
Reviewed by Evelyn Bence on November 13, 2011