Friday, January 27, 2012

City of Tranquil Light Bo Caldwell

Exotic locations, adventure, earthquake, kidnapping, murders, bandits, government upheaval, romance, and a powerful message that cuts to the heart; if that sounds interesting than you’ll love this book, I know I did. Edward Geisler, a Mennonite Missionary to inland China, shows up at Will’s family farm in Oklahoma in 1906. He’s there to speak to their church about the need for missionaries in China and after talking with Will he invites him to go there with him. He tells Will that “The suffering is great, as is the need for help, physical and spiritual.” Will, who is 21 years old, struggles with his decision and yet leaves everything and everyone he knows to go where he feels God, is calling him. In China, Will finds a dangerous dark place, the Mandarin language is hard to learn, every day life is difficult, but he also finds love for the people and the villages and towns where he travels, and for Edwards’ sister in-law Katherine, a nurse who has traveled with them.

The story is told from two viewpoints: Will’s memories and Katherine’s journal entries. It is based on the author’s maternal grandparents, and many other missionaries that went to China. Beautifully written, it grabbed my heart and spoke to my soul. There are so many good quotes I could have underlined the whole book. One of my favorites is when Edward, looking back on his life there, tells Will “To love a place. To hold it so dearly that one aches at the memory of it. Are we not most fortunate.” I read this novel on my kindle, and have to say it is one I’ll read again.

Backyard Finch 
oils on Cigar Box lid
Art by John Barrett

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Word for the Year

My word for the year is life. I've been reading articles about choosing one word that resonates with you for the year, well life is what I choose, but let me tell you it's hard when so many people I've known and loved have passed away. I feel like I need to say it out loud "I choose to keep on living", regardless of the grief, in spite of the inner-pull to not care, in spite of the doomsday predictions of Apocalypse and the Mayan calender. I want to live joyfully, abundantly, to continue to find things that are funny in the obsurd. Speaking of that, I kept thinking that the anniversaire of my mom's death was on the 19th (a few days from now), so I spent the morning looking for a picture of her to post. She was someone who lived life fully, traveling all over the world, making friends out of strangers, speaking her mind even when it would cause conflict because she could see the bigger picture and wanted the best for others. After going through many albums I came across this picture of her in the Holy Land, her first trip there; and she went without a traveling companion. 
Under this picture she wrote the word Allelujah! 

I have to smile when I see this picture of her and Sammy the camel with her friend Ali the Bedouin. Anyway back to today, we drove into town and on the way home John asked me if I wanted to stop by her grave. As we cleaned the headstone, he pointed out laughingly that today (not the 19th) was the anniversaire of her death...hmmm....then I looked around and saw ciggarette butts scattered by the grave where she and my step-father are buried and it was just like they were having a smoke together in the old days. Here's to a new year full of promise and life and joy ;-)