Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Water for the Soul

Recently, I finished reading the most amazing book--Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen.I have to say, this is the best book I have read in a long--LONG time.
The author's writing seemed to seep inside my very soul. The vocabulary was so rich and warm, you could almost taste the words upon every page. They fed my writer's spirit, and I found myself wishing I could write with such passion, such detail, such pull. I'm not one to write fiction....but, oh to be this good, if I could! How thrilling it would be to move the very hearts of my readers, the way my heart and soul were moved by reading this book.
Most of you know by now the setting and story line of Water. But here's the thing....I don't even like circuses. Clowns, big tops, the sight of all those animals cooped up together in un-natural surroundings. No. This has never been a scene for me to seek out, let alone spend time in.
Yet the world of the traveling circus, circa 1930, opened up in such a way when I opened this book, that I was immediately pulled in and loving the life of a stowaway carny. I only had to read the prologue to be completely captivated. After that, I found it physically painful to have to set the book down whenever "real" life demanded that I tend to those pesky duties and responsibilities that kept piling up, while I whittled my days away reading.
I have Hannah to thank for my reading this book in the first place. Without her, Water would most likely have sat upon the living room bookshelf, totally overlooked, and gathering dust indefinitely. Neither the front cover nor the back, with its short description, ever intrigued me. The book had been a gift given over a year ago, and I for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why.
But alas, my middle daughter pulled forth its spine from the collection gathered around it, one day during her spring break. She asked me what it was about, and I said, "I have no clue. I've never read it." Within an hour, she was gushing over the story that had been hidden within, and to my surprise, she had a hard time describing the beautiful prose she had unexpectedly uncovered....."Mom. The writing. The writing is"
Her breathlessness dumbfounded me. What was so powerful that it so completely captured the attention of my 17-year-old daughter? I found out two days later, when I too, picked up the book and cracked its cover. The author made us feel like we were the ones jumping on that circus train. I could feel the leathery skin of Rosie, and I swear I could feel the sting from August's cane. It was a ride I wasn't expecting--but when it was over, I realized I was better for the journey I took.
The best part was walking alongside Hannah through it all. We were able to share our experiences, our questions, our discoveries, and our disbelief over the turn of every page.
And when the story came to an end, it was better to have Hannah by my side, as I said goodbye to Jacob, Marlena, and Rosie.....and all the rest of our newly formed circus family. I will miss them terribly in the days ahead, but their memories will last forever.

Powerful Words

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable. ~Kahlil Gibran