In a series called By Heart, The Atlantic features authors' reflections on their favorite passages of literature. Iranian-born Dina Nayeri, who wrote the recently released A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, choose from Marilyn Robinson's quiet but strong book, Housekeeping:
There is so little to remember of anyone—an anecdote, a conversation at a table. But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming habitual fondness not having meant to keep us waiting long.
Her selection was haunting in its layman's theological truth: we can spend our lives trying to incarnate our own beautiful gods out of longing for reconciliation with those we've loved and lost.
Robinson's words and Nayeri's response struck me and reminded me once again of the power of reading. Reading can create an intangible sanctuary where all are invited, regardless of faith, to receive benedictions that send us back into our respective broken worlds with more courage, strength, and hope. Reading can be an invitation to turn, face God, and live. For Nayeri, she was blessed with a new perspective on her grief; an alternate way of honoring what is unique to her own suffering but common to the human condition.
Reading and writing as a way of engaging the holy is not a new idea, and yet, we don't consider it enough anymore as a viable way to make small pockets of sanity and sense within the various wards of our crazy human existence. Perhaps this is in part due ...1
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