Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Small Price to Pay for Living

Have you ever plowed through a book telling yourself it had to get better, that there had to be some redeeming value in the characters? I don't do that often anymore as life is too short and there are too many good books out there waiting to be read for me to finish one that doesn't win me over near the beginning.

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!


  1. this post makes me want to be very still.
    it was like walking into a cool quiet vacant church.
    built of stone. with echoing footsteps.
    i wanted to stay.
    love to you.
    and sunshine always to the day in your heart.

  2. What a beautiful offering here, Dewena. You have called that right-we need to treasure the beauty of each moment because we never know when it will end. We are blessed indeed- xo Diana

  3. Beautiful and oh so true, Dewena!

  4. Well, if we all lived in that second glorious photo of sunflowers, stone farmhouses and sunny skies, it would certainly make it easier to deal with life's many difficult times! But, the sun does not always shine, and the flowers wilt and weather away, and, when your views are a shady skyline of grey skyscrapers, THAT'S when you need to look harder, within yourself, and out, towards loved ones, for sincere smiles and warm words, and then, suddenly, the sun appears, stretching its rays, having overslept, and late for its shift.

    I am thankful for each and every day; it is a blessing! And looking upon the sun, in strenuous times, has calmed my heart and brightened my soul.

    Thank you for this most inspiring post today, as always, a lot to think about.


    1. Poppy has hit the nail on the head here. It's not always as simple as my post may have inferred for the sun to smooth away the difficult times in someones life. Probably even a restored villa in Tuscany might not do the trick, although I would not mind testing that! So many things do effect our days and some days are just plain hard. I don't always, or should I say I don't often, let the morning sunshine put my troubles in perspective, I truly don't. I just had to say here that this post was a way to try to tell the author of Across the Way--me--to put on her big girl panties and be oh so grateful for the beautiful month that September is here in Tennessee. But all I have to do is turn on the news and be reminded of the dear people in Colorado who are still seeing the havoc that weather can unleash. I think of dear blog friends who are facing surgery this week and I just want the sun to shine figuratively on them soon--pronto.

      Life is not as simple as this post may make it look. Thank you, Poppy, for digging deeper in this than I did. I've told you before in emails that you always not only see what I wrote but also what I didn't write but was there inside. This is a gift you have, dear friend.

  5. This was wonderful,Dewena. We get so caught up in "stuff" that we forget to look for pure inspiration. Thank you for making me focus on this today.

  6. Beautifully written, Dewena. I agree. Thank you for the quote, which made me smile.


  7. Beautifully written, Dewena. I agree. Thank you for the quote, which made me smile.


  8. A great post...I DO remember reading her books years and years ago ! :)

  9. Dear Dewena, a gem of a post. I do not talk of it but have constant pain but know the joy of living in spite of it. Pain is, I believe, a gift in many ways. xo, olive

  10. Yes, Dewena, yes to all of it. Yes, I've continued to read many books because I thought they had to get better. Unlike you, I don't have the good sense to put one down and give it up even if it is torture to read! But what a wonderful gift you had waiting at the end of this book, and how beautifully you've applied those words of the monk to lives to those living in today's world. Yes, it is worth the pain to see the sun come up and watch the seasons change, and so many other glorious events. The tragic news today reminds us of the pain so many experience in this life. Sadly, it also makes me glad to be able to watch the sun come up tomorrow morning (God willing; we never really know). laurie

  11. Oh, how I do love this post! And the monk with his hands on his hips :) Some days, I forget the glory of looking upon the sun!! I will carry this nugget along in my bag...thanks, Dewena!
    P. S. I'm VERY FOND of that last photograph. :)

  12. A beautiful post, and this sentence jumped out at me: 'It seems I'm destined always to fall in love with minor characters in books.' That's very interesting. It's made me think about how I view minor characters. I think I'm a little the same... *ponders*


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