However, I recently rediscovered an author from my younger days, Taylor Caldwell, and began to read her again. When I was in my twenties I lost myself in her big books, such as Captains and the Kings, Dear and Glorious Physician, and Bright Flows the River.
Her books have such full character studies. You get everything there is to be had in her characters, flaws and strengths. I almost gave up on one recently, and it is not one I'd recommend unless you like to read about weirdly dysfunctional families. Come to think of it, isn't that what most best sellers are about today? If that's your cup of tea, look for an old copy of Taylor Caldwell's Let Love Come Last. Terrific title, isn't it? Not a lot of love here though, I'm afraid.
Why am I even writing about it? Because my reward for having completed the book did come at very nearly the end of the book. A son of these miserable parents breaks away in desperation and travels the world in search of some meaning in life. Finally he meets a monk I would love to know. It seems I'm destined always to fall in love with minor characters in books. He is an Italian monk though, wouldn't you know it! Listen to the gold nugget buried towards the end of this sad book:
The monk put his stained hands on his immense hips.
Slowly, again, he drank in the sight of the sky
and of the mountains and of the sea.
"The signore has told me of India,
and of the religion of the people who live there,
how they believe that life is inseparable from pain,
and therefore not desirable.
The Signore seemed to think this belief very wise.
I do not think it wise. I think it is illness.
True it is that life is inseparable from pain.
Even a child understands that.
But if so, of what importance is it?
Pain is a small price to pay for living.
A broken heart or a broken fortune is bearable
so long as the eye can look upon the sun."
So many times I have read blogs of families whose finances were ruined in the economic crisis that burst upon our country in 2008. People who lost jobs and eventually their houses. People who are still struggling and may never make it back to that former level of financial security. And yet so many of them blog about their new lives, about trying to bring beauty into their homes through frugal creativity and ingenuity and hard work. Others write of facing a frightening illness, again.
But each of these have gone on to life because life, after all, is such a gift, one that can end abruptly. To look at the sky each day, to see the sun come up and the seasons change, is that not bigger than almost anything?
As we are just days away from the seasonal change that is lovely autumn, listen to the monk, dear ones!
What is pain or worry, but a small price to pay for living? Look upon the sun!