A friend recommended the novel, Gilead. A father is writing something of a memoir to his son. The father is a pastor. We often talk about taking this life of following Jesus seriously. We must admit we seem to have “tamed” the wild and “softened” the radical way of the Kingdom. I read the following passage from Gilead and thought it striking at the heart of a reckless following needed for our day; something to curb our penchant for accumulation.
I have had a certain acquaintance with a kind of holy poverty. My grandfather never kept anything that was worth giving away, or let us keep it either, so my mother said. He would take laundry right off the line. She said he was worse than any thief, worse than a house fire. She said she could probably go to any town in the Middle West and see some pair of pants she’d patched walking by in the street. I believe he was a saint of some kind. When someone remarked in his hearing that he had lost an eye in the Civil War, he said, “I prefer to remember that I have kept one.” My mother said it was good to know there was anything he could keep. He told me once he was wounded at Wilson’s Creek, on the day of the death of General Lyon. “Now that,” he said, “was a loss.”
When he left us, we all felt his absence bitterly. But he did make things difficult. It was an innocence in him. He lacked patience for anything but the plainest of interpretations of the starkest commandments, “To him who asks, give,” in particular. ( p.31)