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.