There’s an old saying that you are what you eat, but its also true YOU ARE WHAT YOU READ, perhaps even more so. It’s a pleasurable experience going into a book shop with book token in hand, and browsing through the shelves. Its simpler to order on line, but you miss the added anticipation of delving into what’s on offer . You never know what you’re going to select. Some years ago a book almost literally fell into my hands that has profoundly affected my general take on life.
Marilynne Robinson’s Novel “Gideon,” is one such. She’s an American author and much read all over the world. “Gideon” is a visionary novel of dazzling originality. Its a masterpiece and there are so many insights that it would almost take another book to comment on them all. Briefly its about an aging pastor who has a young son. He’s old and he wants to share his life’s experience with the boy. He will be long gone before the young lad will be able to understand it all. Gideon is small town in Kansas.
“I told you last night that I might be gone sometime and you said, Where, and I said to be with the Good Lord, and you said , Why, and I said because I’m old…”
That is the first sentence of the novel and from that moment I was hooked.
I keep it beside my bed and generally delve into it on waking. I may only read one or two sentences. But there’s food for thought on every page. Being myself a pastor and coming on in years it’s very relevant.
This morning I randomly opened the book and read the following quotation by the old pastor.
” ‘For who among men knoweth the things of a man,’ save the spirit of the man, which is in him?’ 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….Each single one of us is a little civilization built on the ruins 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.”
One realizes that it is Marilynne Robinson, the author, who is speaking through the pastor. But that doesn’t detract from the narrative.
Obviously I’d read that passage previously, but only to-day have I taken it in.
In our encounters with other people, even our own nearest and dearest, there is a hidden “self” that can never be satisfactorily communicated. This is especially true when we blog. Each of us has a personal story that cannot be communicated to anyone with success.
It is here that the Good News of Jesus speaks to us all. We need to see our personal story within a greater story. This is at the very heart of the Gospel and in a real sense the purpose of the churches…no one particular church, but the collective. When we are able to see our individual stories within the supreme story of Jesus, then and only then will the Holy Spirit unite us with each other giving us wisdom and understanding.