The written word

Really liked this blog post from DesiringGod.org quoting one of my favourite pastors, John Piper:

To put it simply, without a full and rich language of the sense, we will lose the enduring quality of our sensuous joys, and, what’s worse, with the atrophy of our descriptive capacities the power of all our enjoyment languishes. When you cease to use the word “tree” in your vocabulary, you have probably ceased to look at trees. The relation this has to theological vocabulary is this: The fastest and easiest way to obliterate the language of the sense and the power of the senses is to read only poverty-stricken theology. And if you’re wondering where to begin, Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead may be a good way to look afresh at the trees. There she will display images in your imagination like the newly unveiled sun glistening through the water droplets on the soaked leaves of a tall oak after a hard rain.

So I went to the library to search for Marilynne Robinson, and borrowed “Home”, which won the Orange Prize for fiction. Finished it and liked it, and found Pulitzer prize-winning “Gilead” the next time. After reading a bit, I realised I had dodo-edly borrowed it though I had already done so previously. Was quite pleased to find “Housekeeping”, her first novel, on my last trip to the library. Finished the first few pages, and the narrative from the point of view of a child whose mother committed suicide after depositing her and her sister at the door of their grandmother’s whom they had never met. Her writing is lyrical, the content wholesome and touching. Really hard to find decent literature like this today.

Musing thus, she set out upon her widowhood, nad became altogether as good a widow as she had been a wife. … Never since they were small children had they clustered about her so, and never since then had she been so aware of the smell of their hair, their softness, breathiness, abruptness. It filled her with a strange elation, the same pleasure she had felt when any one of htem, as a sucking child, had fastened her eyes on her face and reached for her other breast, her hair, her lips, hungry to touch, eager to be filled for a while and sleep. …She burrowed her hand under a potato plant and felt gingerly for the new potatoes in their dry net of roots, smooth as eggs. She put them in her apron and walked back to the house thinking, What have I seen, what have I seen. The earth and the sky and the garden, not as they always are. And she saw her daughters’ faces not as they always were… She had never taught them to be kind to her.”

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