The Brothers K

I can't separate my creative life from my spiritual life. I don't think anybody can. It's just that we have these preconceived ideas about where we should find spirituality and what it should look like - and similarly, we have rigid notions about how creativity should appear in our lives. So when these two elements get mixed up, it's natural, and a good thing.

Likewise, I love it when a novel doesn't shy away from spirituality or religion (which are not the same thing, but are connected).

For this reason, one of my favorite reads this past year was The Brothers K, by David James Duncan, recommended by the discerning, gifted writer/reader/blogger, Gypsy M. This book reminded me of the great goodness and grace of the Divine One, who gives us much to laugh about, taking us to unlikely places to glimpse divine presence.

The book recounts the adventures and misadventures of four boys raised in a boisterous, baseball-loving, Seventh Day Adventist family of the 1960's. It takes place in Camas Washington, near my own stomping grounds. One morning in Sabbath school the youngest boy, Kincaid, passes a boring hour by daydreaming. He recalls a dream about the Kingdom of Heaven, his own version. "At first glance, it looks a lot like a golf course." As he explores this kingdom, he encounters a beautiful pool, which reflects everything above ground. Looking closer, he finds a figure in the pool like a tiny Kincaid:

"Everything about him was matchless, perfect. And the instant the word perfect popped into my head, I realized, despite his size and resemblance to me, who he could only be. The boy in the pool was Christ. Not Jesus exactly, or not just Jesus, but a Christ. My Christ.

And he was looking right at me.

To my amazement, I spoke first. 'I wondered where you were hiding!' I said. Then laughed. I couldn't help it. It was so funny to find him so much like me, and so tiny. 'Nice kingdom you got here,' I added, laughing again. 'But it didn't feel quite right without you. Or should I say, without me?'

This time he laughed too, and though there were no bubbles or sound I could feel his delight rise up through the water: which made me laugh even harder: which made him do the same."
That picture is going to stay with me a long time: the little Jesus-in-me, who looks so much like me. Who sometimes seems to be hiding. And yet in his light I look like a "huge, sloppy cartoon caricature..."

Passages like these remind me to write about God the way I see God - allowing those images to show up on the pages, original, quirky, ticklish, awe-inspiring, funny--however they happen to be.

(More of my favorite God-lines from The Brothers K.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment! I love feedback.