The earthquake occurred while I was on vacation in Florida, and as sometimes a change in location offers time for reflection, a new perspective on myself and my life, the quake was a catalyst for even deeper self-evaluation. Similarly, the book that I was reading that week was The Help, a novel set in Mississippi in the 1960s, telling the stories of black maids and their complex relationships with the wealthy white families they worked for.
In addition, the theme that I chose for this year is LOVE, and I had just begun to ask God to show me what love is, what does it mean to love, where do I lack love, how can the goal of my life be to love? I had begun to pray each day that God would show me how I can accomplish the most love that day.
These three things occurring in the same week created a revealing, and disturbing, reflection of myself and my great lack of love.
The Help is a beautifully written and hopeful story. I would highly, highly recommend it- endearing characters and a story that unfolds lightly and with humor, and yet rich layers of plot and emotion.
The book was probing and disturbing, as well. As I read I couldn't help but try to identify who is my character in the story, and had to admit that I would have to be cast among the pampered and privileged, and yet still self-righteous white women in the story. When confronted with the book that was written anonymously (by their maids) about them, they were for the most part completely unaware that the book told their own story. They prided themselves on what "good Christians" they were, collecting donations to send to Africa and yet were cruel and merciless to the people who worked in their homes.
I was reminded of how much courage is required to truly love people, how many social barriers must be crossed, how many people you will offend.
I wonder how I profess to serve and follow Christ, and yet overlook people, or contribute to systems that abuse or take advantage of people. In what places do I choose to look away rather than to defend the defenseless, or take on the difficult and messy work of loving my neighbor as myself? I wonder who are the "forgotten" people in my town, the people carrying the heaviest loads and being treated poorly or who never get a chance to build a comfortable life for themselves and their family. And what can I do about it?
The second book I just finished is the Mommy Manual, planting roots that give your children wings, by Barbara Curtis. I purchased it on a whim from Amazon last year based on the rave reviews, but just now got around to reading it and don't have that much to say about it. I was hoping to learn more about a Montessori approach to parenting, which I did, but nothing earth-shattering or all that memorable, to be honest.