Sunday, April 16, 2006
lemons and balm
This week's bedtime read, an impulse buy in London last summer: "Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalusia." Artistic and sheep-shearing English man and wife buy a dilapidated farm in Spain and adapt to the complexities of simple life on the land. I bought the book for its cover. So far it's a refreshingly rare combination of realism and good humor with a remarkable absence of cynicism.
But what I've been reading Sundays for a bit is one of the books for my annual summer workshop on our first year seminar curriculum, Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead." The pacing of the book will never work for first year students, but it's a lovely way (for me) to rest and read as the old man narrator's voice rambles with sometimes excruciating but usually surprisingly reassuring self-insight and honesty.
My favorite passage so far, in the middle of the book, reflects on Calvin's metaphor of the human as actor on a stage and God as audience: "It makes us artists of our behavior, and the reaction of God to us might be thought of as aesthetic rather than morally judgmental in the ordinary sense. How well do we understand our role? With how much assurance do we perform it? ...It suggests how God might actually enjoy us." That's how I usually think of grace - both theologically and aesthetically. These images require meditation and eventually celebration (or at least practice-application).
"Much more prayer is called for, clearly, but first I will take a nap." (p. 125)