this summer has seen so many good books fill my heart and head. but mainly, mostly, it was gilead that i keep returning to. keep thinking about.
to start, i should say that i generally don't love pulitzer prize winners. i know it's controversial. i know that's probably against the code of readers, but it's the truth. sometime pulitzers feel a little too much like english class and too little like downtime.
i loved this book. fell in love with this book. it felt like being written to by your grandfather, if you had a kind and strong and loving and faithful grandfather, and i did. it felt like all the best stories of his childhood and all the stories you remember about your own and all the things you hope for your own future children.
it is a very long letter, written by an old father to his very young son, the son he describes as one of his greatest gifts, a surprise in his twilight. it is to be the sum of his wisdom and hopes for his child. it is to be how he teaches him all there is to know of life and love and god and faith. i highlighted and highlighted. i felt my eyes welling up with tears again and again. it's the kind of book that is so startlingly beautiful you can barely contain the joy in your soul, hardly catch your breath.
it should be noted that gilead is also a place, it means rugged or mountain and in the old testament it refers to the area just north of the dead sea, it is a city of strife. this is notable because in the book, gilead, is also a town but it is a town that is mainly sleepy and peaceful in the way we (i) imagine mid-fifties, mid-western towns to be. slighly tumbleweedish, where people know each other, and where christianity is a cultural experience, if not also a spiritual one. but underneath it all, it is also a rugged place. mainly, it is a rugged place for the soul. the father, the old man who is dying, is so struggling with the resolve to live out a life of faith, despite desperately wanting to hold on for more.
it is a book of restoration:
And grace is the great gift. So to be forgiven is only have the gift. The other half is that we also can forgive and restore and liberate, and therefore we can feel the will of God enacted through us, which is the great restoration of ourselves to ourselves.
of seeking faith:
So my advice is this - don't look for proofs. Don't bother with them at all. they are never sufficient to the question, and they're always a little impertinent, I think, because they claim for God a place within our conceptual grasp...I'm not saying never doubt or question. The Lord gave you a mind so that you make honest use of it. I'm saying you must be sure that the doubts and questions are your own, not, so to speak, the mustache and walking stick that happen to be the fashion of any particular moment.
And often enough, when we think we are protecting ourselves, we are struggling against our rescuer.
whether or not you are a person of faith, this book will bless you. go read it. but might i suggest, reading it at a time when you have a moment to slow? i was on vacation when i read this. i needed to be. there was so much life in this book about dying that i needed moments to look up from what i was reading and ponder. it is not a read that should be hurried. it should be savoured. it should be ruminated upon.
there is a companion novel to gilead called home. i am desperate to read this, i am also sure i need to have a slow place in my life to do so, this one, i will keep for the next break.