Liz Tichenor has taken her newborn son, five weeks old, to the doctor, from a cabin on the shores of Lake Tahoe. She is sent home to her husband and two-year-old daughter with the baby, who is pronounced fine by an urgent care physician. Six hours later, the baby dies in their bed. As a very young Episcopal priest, Tichenor has to preach the Good News, to find faith where there is no hope, but she realizes these terrible parts of her own life will join her in the pulpit. The Night Lake is the story of finding a way forward through tragedies that seem like they might be beyond surviving and of carving out space for the slow labor of learning to live again, in grief.
Liz Tichenor’s The Night Lake: A Young Priest Maps the Topography of Grief surprised me. I felt surprise at the grace with which Tichenor shares her walk through shadow. I was surprised by how deeply Tichenor’s articulation of her experience of faith resonated with my own, and by her brushes with the mystical divine that jolted me and left me feeling uncertain. Some might feel surprise at priests cursing in the face of unimaginable grief. Whatever your experience of grief, and whatever your experience of faith, The Night Lake will manage to surprise you, too. But it’s not easy reading ... This is not simply a book for those who have found themselves mired in such grief. It teaches all of us how to be with those who are going through tragedy, how to be vulnerable and how to practice compassion.
Tichenor's courageous memoir is an exquisitely crafted, painfully beautiful chronicle of loss. She articulates the immensity of her feelings and emotions with unbridled candor that, at times, is difficult to read, but ultimately evokes hard-fought rebirth, resurrection and the presence of God. For five years, Tichenor travels a rocky path toward perspective and healing, until the ravaging devastation of loss ultimately fuses into the landscape of her life. Navigating as a bereft wife and mother, a pastor, a friend and a daughter orphaned because of her mother's helplessness, Tichenor discovers that pain, joy and sadness can prove enlightening, buoying her with hope and eloquent moments of grace.
In a memoir steeped in raw, often heartbreaking emotion ... Now, determinedly sober and a church rector, Tichenor acknowledges the persistence of grief over a death that 'gutted me, sank me, its images flashing before my eyes, as I continuously relived it.' A powerful, forthright chronicle of surviving profound loss.