Reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

I’m re-reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and love it just as much this time as the last. It is true that I mostly read mysteries and romances (and yes, my brain still seems to function) and the occasional history book, but I do delve into deeper waters now and then.

What I love about this book is how soothed I feel when I’m reading it. It is a balm. The premise is that an aging/dying Congregationalist minister is writing a long letter to his seven year old son to be read when the son is grown and the father long dead. He muses about this and that, a lot of it about spirituality and holiness, but it is not preachy nor God-heavy. It is, in fact, a lovely book.

I love that old man and wish I could sit with him of an afternoon. He is so very human — he has no notion of being a saintly man, but he is rather.

Here are some excerpts I have found especially meaningful:

. . . no one ever has that sort of courage who hasn’t needed it.

. . . people worth knowing have scars.

Calvin says, each of us is an actor on a stage and God is the audience.

When you encounter another person, when you have dealings with anyone, it is as if a question is being put to you – what is the Lord asking of me in this moment.

She supposed it [the soul] was what the Lord saw when His regard fell upon any of us. (This is from another of Robinson’s novels, Home.)

Robinson also has marvelous imagery:

The waters were full of plump little perch disturbingly avid for capture. (from Housekeeping)

To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. (Housekeeping)

I saw a bubble float past my window, fat and wobbly and ripening toward that dragonfly blue they turn just before they burst. So I looked down at the yard and there you were, you and your mother, blowing bubbles at the cat, such a barrage of them that the poor beast was beside herself at the glut of opportunity. (Gilead)

One of my friends does not like Gilead at all. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but if you have an appetite for philosophizing now and then, I recommend all of Robinson’s books.

About glcraig

Gretchen Craig’s lush, sweeping tales deliver edgy, compelling characters who test the boundaries of integrity, strength, and love. Told with sensitivity, the novels realistically portray the raw suffering of people in times of great upheaval. Gretchen was born and raised in Florida. She’s lived in climates and terrain as diverse as the white beaches of the Gulf Coast, the rocky shores of Maine, and the dusty plains of Texas. Her awareness of place imbues every page with the smell of the bayous of Louisiana, the taste of gumbo in New Orleans, or the grit of a desert storm. Rich in compelling characters and historical detail, Always and Forever is a sweeping saga of Josie and Cleo, mistress and slave. Amid Cajuns and Creoles, the bonds between these two remarkable women are tested by prejudice, tragedy, and passion for one extraordinary man. Gretchen’s first novel won the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence for Mainstream with Romantic Elements and was chosen as an Editor’s Pick in the Historical Novel Society reviews. Ever My Love, winner of the Booksellers Best Award from the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America, continues the story of Cleo and Josie’s families, of their struggle for principle, justice, and love in a world where the underpinnings of the plantation culture are crumbling. Crimson Sky, inspired by the pueblos, mountains, and deserts of New Mexico, evokes the lives of people facing neighboring marauders and drought. Now the march of Spanish Conquistadors up the Rio Grande threatens their homeland, their culture, and their entire belief system.
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