Sunday, November 11, 2012


 Last week I finished reading Marilynne Robinson's exquisite novel, Gilead yet again. This is a book to be savored. A beautiful story told by the Reverend John Ames through a series of letters to his young son as he contemplates his life, his history, and the future of his wife and son. Robinson's brilliant observations and lyrical prose set this novel apart from so many other contemporary writings. Her knowledge of the relationship between fathers and sons, as well as her deep understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ is remarkable. This is one of my favorite books and after finishing the final chapter, I felt as if saying good-bye to an old friend. However, I'm sure it won't be long I pick it up once again to be tutored by the ever wise, yet humble, John Ames.

Here are a few excerpts that I found particularly noteworthy during this reading:

". . . it's your existence I love you for, mainly.  Existence seems to me now the most remarkable thing that could ever be imagined.  I'm about to put on imperishability.  In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye . . .  The twinkling of an eye. That is the most wonderful expression.  I've thought from time to time it was the best thing in life, that little incandescence you see in people when the charm of a thing strikes them, or the humor of it. The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart.  That's a fact."

 "Our dream of life will end as dreams do end, abruptly and completely, when the sun rises, when the light comes.  And we will think, All that fear and all that grief were about nothing.  But that cannot be true.  I can't believe we will forget our sorrows altogether.  That would mean forgetting that we had lived, humanly speaking.  Sorrow seems to me to be a great part of the substance of human life. . . ."

"This is an important thing, which I have told many people, and which my father told me, and which his father told him.  When you encounter another person, when you have dealings with anyone at all, it is as if a question is being put to you.  So you must think, What is the Lord asking of me in this moment, in this situation?  If you confront insult or antagonism, your first impulse will be to respond in kind.  But if you think, as it were, This is an emissary sent from the Lord, and some benefit is intended for me . . . You are free to act by your own lights.  You are freed at the same time of the impulse to hate or resent that person.  He would probably laugh at the thought that the Lord sent him to you for your benefit (and his), but that is the perfection of the disguise, his own ignorance of it."

"In every important way we are such secrets from each other, and I do believe that there is a separate language in each of us, also a separate aesthetics and a separate jurisprudence.  Every single one of us is a little civilization built on the ruins of any number of preceding civilizations, but with our own variant notions of what is beautiful and what is acceptable-- which, I hasten to add, we generally do not satisfy and by which we struggle to live.  We take fortuitous resemblances among us to be actual likeness, because those around us have also fallen heir to the same customs, trade in the same coin, acknowledge, more or less, the same notions of decency and sanity.  But all that really just allows us to coexist with the inviolable, untraversable, and utterly vast spaces between us."

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Just finished Same kind of different as me, in one day, couldn't put it down! No wonder I had to wait so long for the library to have a copy! I loved it. Love all your book suggestions. I'll go get this one soon!