Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout-Musings on Gravitational Centers

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Abide with Me: A Novel“A good thing to be humbled. But now I’m scared. I guess of not having a center of gravity, the way Bonhoeffer says a grown man has. I’m not sure I have a center of gravity. But you must. Why? As a matter of fact, I could imagine that none of us has a center of gravity. That we’re tugged and pulled by competing forces every minute and we hold on as best we can. Thats a relief because sometimes Bonhoeffer has this tone like he knows everything.  He knew a great deal but I suspect if he was concerned about his center of gravity it was because his center felt pretty wobbly at times.”  Elizabeth Strout, Abide With Me, 280-1

 Abide with Me: A Novel A novel written by Elizabeth Strout about a New England minister set in the late 1950’s who loses his way after he suffers the tragic loss of his wife to cancer. The book follows him through his interactions with his family and the troubled members of his congregation.

The late ’50’s were a fearful time of unrest, the aftermath of two wars— WWII and the Korean War were still fresh wounds, our nation was caught in the midst of the Cold War as well.

Typically most Christians today when they find themselves searching for guidance and answers to moral dilemmas ask themselves WWJD?, “What Would Jesus Do?”.  However, Elizabeth Strout depicted her main character as a WWDBD? “What Would Dietrich Bonhoeffer Do?” kind of man.

He had found the works of the theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, during his studies at divinity school and Bonhoeffer’s words quickly became a fulcrum for the reverend, a way to balance out his thoughts and his sermons. A plumb line for how to behave as a grown man and as a minister to his flock.

Not my usual “cup of tea” but Elizabeth Strout is a very good author, she tells a compelling story and has quite the way with words. I had read another of her books, Olive Kitteridge. I plan on reading more.

Her Reverend finds himself struggling, hard to be the person he once was, hard to find the right words in his sermons, and hard to find the right words to help others, much less himself.  Throughout the book he must come to deal with a series of humbling blows to his sense of self. Not even WWDBD is working anymore.

Above is a paraphrase of a conversation between the main character and his theological mentor set near the end of the book. This conversation struck my “yoga bone” as the use of your gravitational center is crucial to the practice of Yoga.  A physical and mental journey to bring balance to life.

“Abide with Me” as I work my way through these thoughts about gravitational centers.

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Hi! I'm Debbie. Here at Categorically Well-Read I give an extra layer to the reading life. Learn more about me, check out my current category of books, submit your own suggestion, or check out my latest post.