Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Catching Up

The Whole World Over
by Julia Glass

Just a few things to bring up to speed since returning from our trip. One - about the questions I posted a few days ago. I gave some thought to my answers, so here goes:

What is the ugliest thing you have witnessed in recent memory?

That prize would have to go to a tattooed-neck man in a restaurant where we ate recently being mean to his two beautiful children. They looked to be about 5 and 7, and as far as I could tell, they were very well-behaved. He kept talking about what "brats" they were who gave him nothing but "disappointment," and how they were really going to "get it" when they got home. The kids were crying (duh) and unable to eat, which just made him madder. Just being one booth away from him made my stomach hurt. Wanted to sock him in the nose, but thought that would not be good for any of the parties. What does one do in a situation like that?

What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?

There is a two-way tie for this one. One: the way my grandfather would bend down and kiss my grandmother's neck after complying when she asked him to unzip her dress for her. I watched him do this many times while growing up, the last time being after a family wedding in approximately 1996, and she was wearing a red dress and could not reach the zipper. By that time, they had been married well over 50 years, but his adoration of her was evident. 2) Olengurone, Kenya. August 9, 1999. Was there with a presbytery group on a mission trip and saw absolutely the brightest, most perfect rainbow imaginable. It was after a rainstorm and the whole arc was visible, just like in picture books. A beautiful sight that signified the presence of a loving God in an area that was just beginning to recover from tribal clashes.

It seems like since I became rather taken with this idea of beauty as a conduit to the divine, I have been stumbling onto quotes and other opinions about this same concept. For example, one of my favorite singer-songwriters, John McCutcheon, has a new CD out called This Fire: Politics, Love, and Other Small Miracles. In the liner notes he writes that he "continues to be astonished by the ability of ordinary people to do beautiful things in the face of the world's ugliness." It's a great CD, by the way. (I know this is a reading blog but here you get some music advice free of charge!)

Finished The Whole World Over on the trip. It is a wonderful read. LOVED this book. Not overtly spiritual, but emphasizes the things that are conducive to leading a spiritual, connected, fulfilling life. There is a saying repeated a couple of times in the book that "birds fly the whole world over, but eventually find their way home." At its heart, the book is about the longing that we all have deep within ourselves to find home, and that home is just as likely to be a person or being as a place. The characters are all likable - they make mistakes, some of them incredibly stupid ones, but they each decide in the end that there are some things worth making sacrifices for, worth fighting for. Here's my take on what some of the major characters decide is truly important.

Greenie: marriage, shared history, co-parenthood
Walter: companionship and connection
Alan: love and vocation
Saga: relationships with animals and (ultimately) with people
Joya: parenthood
George: creation

Did I mention that I loved this book?

Reverent Reader


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