“Love is holy because it is like grace…

4 March, 2010 § 1 Comment

… the worthiness of its object is never really what matters” (page 209).

I just completed the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner, Gilead, by multiple award-winning author Marilynne Robinson and – – per my friend A. S.’s trusted recommendation – – it more than exceeded previous expectations. Simultaneously sobering, insightful, blunt, heartwarming and profound, Gilead is an unconventional memoir of sorts as the narrator, a 76-year old father, husband and minister, is nearing imminent death and seeks to look back on his life events and epiphanies through the means of an ongoing letter to his young son. In many ways, Robinson’s soft tones mimic the inner voice of a gentle-hearted man steeped in spiritual discipline and yet, John Ames’ witticisms and personal insecurities insert a necessary, lethargy-preventing element of life, humanity and humor to the book’s flow.

Unlike my typical book process, one in which it is not out of the ordinary to take in an entire novel in one evening, Gilead is a book that begs a slower, contemplative reading. Time and time again, Robinson proffers a gloriously simple turn of phrase or a beautiful stanza of prose in order to inspire a sense of stillness and even awe within the greater framework of story. The reader is then given pause and provoked into meditation before being able to take her truths to heart.

Although there were multiple occasions in the narrative when I paused, ripped off a piece of paper and marked a certain line or paragraph in the book as one to transcribe in my ever-handy “Litany of Quotes” journal, this next bit stands out as one of my absolute favorites. Enjoy, my friends.

“And that’s all right.
There is no justice in love, no proportion in it,
and there need not be, because in any specific instance
it is only a glimpse or parable
of an embracing, incomprehensible reality.
It makes no sense at all because it is
the eternal breaking in on the temporal.

– – Jack on the inexplicable love of
a father for his wayward, prodigal child


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