Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Book Thief

Last night I finished reading The Book Thief for the 2nd time.  It is indescribable in its loveliness and loneliness.  It begins in my birth year (1939) Nazi Germany.  Death is the narrator and death is remarkably kindhearted as it tenderly carries souls from the bodies of those who have died.  Some of those souls, it was noted, were sitting up inside the person who died and I came to the conclusion that the souls sitting up belonged to someone who was unusually present during life.   I kept thinking, Ah! all this was happening the same year that Life carried my soul to Earth.   If you want a big thrill and just to be entertained, don't read this book.  But if you are willing to have your heart crushed and put back together in the same moment you might find this book therapeutic.  If you would like to live for a while with a fascinating little girl, Liesel Meminger on Himmel Street (which ironically means heaven) you might want to pick up this book and give it your attention.  Liesel: the child who loved words and stole books!  Liesel who embraces the ugliness and beauty of each moment!  Liesel, curious, passionate and fiercely present!  Liesel and Death will be your guides. Liesel's last written words were:

 I have hated the words and
I have loved them,
and I hope I have made them right.

Death's last words were:
I am haunted by humans.

Liesel and Death have provided me with the 'word' I will try to live during the month of May.  Scroll down underneath the picture of the book to see the word.

And the word is, presence.  PRESENCE, which is so beautifully described in the words of Etty Hillesum, who died in Auschwitz in 1943.  These words from her diary portray the kind of presence I would like to offer my community and the larger world.

"I feel as if I were the guardian of a precious slice of life with all the responsibility that entails.  There are moments when I feel like giving up or giving in but I soon rally again and do my duty as I see it: to keep the spark of life inside me ablaze."   This quote is taken from her diaries: An Interrupted Life.

So let's be present to one another during May (and beyond).  Let's do everything in our power to keep the spark of life inside us ablaze, so that when Death comes for us our souls will be sitting up inside us ready to keep on blazing.

1 comment:

  1. Our book club LOVED "Book Thief" so I've shared your comments with them. A friend gave me your book "Abide" for Christmas and I've been SO blessed. Now to find you have a blog!!