Thursday, 24 September 2009

Peace Like a River

Glen gave me Peace Like a River by Leif Enger for my birthday this year. Like the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, it was a page turner. I don't know about you, but I am a skipper. I skip bits when I get bored, or when I just want to know what happens next. I skip whole pages (in some books this is necessary to find something to worth reading) and even whole chapters (like in the 44 Scotland St books when the chapter is about a character I'm not interested in). However, Peace Like a River was so gripping and so well-written that I couldn't skip even a word and I couldn't stop turning pages.

Peace Like a River is about fathers and sons and brothers and sisters.  It's about love and kinship and justice and law and goodness and innocence and betrayal and guilt.

It's about the Great American West.  It is a great American Western.

It's tragic. It's heroic.  It's a fight.  It's a flight.

It's about miracles.
"Let me say something about that word: miracle.  For too long it's been used to characterise things or events that, though pleasant, are entirely normal.  Peeping chicks at Easter time, spring generally, a clear sunrise after an overcast week- a miracle, people say, as if they've been educated from greeting cards.  I'm sorry, but nope.  Such things are worth our notice every day of the week, but to call them miracles evaporates the strength of the word.

Real miracles bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature.  It's true: They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in.  Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave- now there's a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time.  When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up.  A miracle contradicts the will of the earth.

My sister, Swede, who often sees to the nub, offered this: People fear miracles because they fear being changed- though ignoring them will change you also.  Swede said another thing, too, and it rang in me like a bell: No miracle happens without a witness.  Someone to declare, Here's what I saw.  Here's how it went.  Make of it what you will."*
And so Reuben Land tells what he saw and how it went.  He testifies about his Father, who is beloved by God and who loves God, who prays like he breathes, and who wrestles with God as he walks with Him through such circumstances as I should hope never to find myself.

And so, if you can get your head around how a novel can possibly be testimony to fact, you'll enjoy it as much as I.

* page 3


Victoria said...

'Peace like a river' is my favourite kids church song - so much so that my enthusiam for it caused it to be all my kid's church kids fav song now too!
I didn't know about the book - will investigate further!

Rachael said...

Hi Victoria. I don't know the song you mean, but I do have the words 'peace like a river' mixed up with 'bridge over troubled waters' and not sure if they're even in the same song or not. It's definitely worth a read and maybe you can fill me in on whether the quote is relevant to the song...