I lead our church book club. This was a reluctant “ministry” for me. Our Women’s Ministry Director recruited me for over a year before I finally relented—basically because I had read little “good” Christian fiction (besides the classics of course). I had a real “attitude” about this particular genre. I wish I could say I have changed my mind.
One thing I do NOT do is pre-read the books I select. I want to read the books along with the rest of the group and be fresh to discuss each one. I rely on book reviews at different sites and then compile a list for the club to read over the year. What amazes me is that no matter how poorly the book is written, it still stimulates great conversation, which-I think-is the entire point of a book club.
This month we are reading a book entitled “When Crickets Cry” by Charles Martin. From the start, I must say that this is one of my most favorite books that we have read. What I realized early on, and was again emphasized in this particular book, is that loss; whether it is of a spouse or a child or a father or a mother, is fodder for fiction. This book follows the pattern.
The protagonist is a widower and a doctor who is attempting to come to grips with his life following the death of his wife. Of course he leaves the practice of medicine because he can’t “save her” and enters an entirely different life crafting boats. Well into the story he begins to have a relationship with another woman who is the caregiver for her niece – who happens to have a similar heart problem as his departed wife. The new “girl” seems to “get it” and here is the conversation that she has with her niece one evening:
“Do you think he likes you?”
This time Cindy responded, “Honey, I’m not sure. Grown-ups sometimes have a lot going on inside their hearts and…I think Reese has a hurt heart.”
“Like mine?” Annie asked.
“No,” Cindy answered, “not like yours. More like he gave it away a long time ago, and when his wife died she took it with her.”
“Oh,” Annie whispered. “Can he get it back?”
“I don’t know,” Cindy said. “I don’t know if he wants to. Sometimes the memory of love is so strong that it edges out most everything else.”
Wow—I had to set the book down for a while. This is insightful. I have read over and over on the widow board how folks want to find love again, but do they really WANT to? Is the memory of love too strong? I never thought of life on these terms because my experience has been much different.
I, on the other hand, maintain a different attitude. I believe IF you have had a great love, than you long for, even are destined to, have another. The greatest memorial I can give Don is to love again—not to find someone to “distract me from the pain”, but to truly search out and find one to share my life with. I was fortunate to have found such a person.
Having said that, I also understand how difficult it is to be open to new love—to put yourself out there when rejection can wound an already fragile self-esteem. I understand how, at times, it feels as if you are “cheating” on the one who has departed, but I go back to the fact that if the tables were turned (and fortunately Don and I discussed this), I would want him to love again.
The human heart is more complex than we will ever be able to understand.
“Who could refrain that had a heart to love and in that heart courage to make love known?” William Shakespeare
OHH—if it were that easy…
This I know for sure.
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