Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Poetic, lyrical, luminous. These are the words that repeatedly came to mind while reading Marilynne Robinson's Gilead.  That is, when I wasn't too overwhelmed with the emotions her writing evokes to overlay them with thought.

She artfully holds a mirror nearer and nearer the heart, forcing us to encounter head-on the universal, internal struggle to reconcile the pain and the beauty of life, while attempting to live out our deeply held beliefs in both individual and community relationships.  

This intensely personal, yet mostly unremarkable, struggle is undertaken alongside others whose own internal struggles are similar yet disparate - even antithetical - to our own and yet, for them, carry the same profundity, mystery, and power that our own do.  

For Reverend Ames, ordinary life is a continuous self-dialogue that seeks to make sense of all these internal and external enigmas.  Sometimes the conclusion we seek - love for another - requires an extended and steady pursuit.  When it finally blossoms, it is a lasting and peace-inducing treasure.

If you read Gilead, don't stop there.  Home, though written subsequently, chronicles the same timeframe in the same town with the same families, as seen through the eyes of characters other than Ames.  Surely this has been done before, but no instances come to mind.  It is pure brilliance.  

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