Gilead

Right now I’m taking a break from non-fiction and delving into a little fiction. I saw the book Gilead (winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize) by Marilynne Robinson reviewed positively by many over at the Rabbit Room, and on my last trip to the library, I picked it up.

The language is simple but profound, and there have been many favorite passages already. Here are two:

There was a young couple strolling along half a block ahead of me. The sun had come up brilliantly after a heavy rain, and the trees were glistening and very wet. On some impulse, plain exuberance, I suppose, the fellow jumped up and caught hold of a branch, and a storm of luminous water came pouring down on the two of them, and they laughed and took off running, the girl sweeping water off her hair and her dress as if she were a little bit disgusted, but she wasn’t. It was a beautiful thing to see, like something from a myth. I don’t know why I thought of that now, except perhaps because it is easy to believe in such moments that water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash. I wish I had paid more attention to it. My list of regrets may seem unusual, but who can know that they are, really. This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it. (p.28)

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, first of all the occasion to demonstrate my faithfulness, the chance to show that I do in some small degree participate in the grace that saved me, you are free to act otherwise than as circumstances would seem to dictate. 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. (p. 124)

One thought on “Gilead

  1. The second quote is wonderful! Impressively applicable at this moment on my life (career). And the laughter doesn’t have to come only from the Messenger when considering how absurd the notion that these types are designed of God for my benefit – I laugh at the notion too. Then, ashamed, I act like Sarah and deny I laughed, knowing it’s unbelief.

    Like

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