It has been a tragic week and I wondered what I could share about books in the midst of all the pain. I know books alone are not the answer. But some novels are powerful in how they convey hope amidst great injustice.They enlighten our world on not just the tragedy but the triumph as well. In this sense, they are revolving doors to the past and present so we will be equipped to navigate the future.
[Tweet “Books are like a ship’s rudder, able to change the direction of our journey.”]
We need to listen to the wisdom others have gleaned and shared through their testimonies. The disciples held on to the hope to which they were called and passed it on.
[Tweet “Hope found is hope shared.”]
The Bible, The Saying of Jesus, Unbroken, The Railway Man take my hand and help me to understand the necessity of forgiveness. It is a bridge of freedom from the past to the future with restored dignity and purpose. In choosing to forgive, we reflect the heart of Christ and the unconditional love of God.
Cry the Beloved Country opened my eyes to the realities of black men living under the oppression of white men’s rule in South Africa. I picked up Desmond Tutu’s book, No Future Without Forgiveness. Nelson Mandela appointed him chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was awarded the Nobel Peace prize a year earlier for his work as he stood up to the apartheid regime. In his book, Tutu presses for the need for a third way, a different path than continual hate and retaliation. “We can indeed transcend the conflicts of the past, we can hold hands as we realize our common humanity.” Tutu came up with a brilliant plan. The victims told their stories of the atrocities they witnessed and the perpetrators had to be present and listen to the pain in order to alleviate the spiral of retaliation.
We need to honor the stories, no matter how hard they are, because it honors the ones who have endured the pain as well as the hope. Stories of redemption and triumph are the lighthouses that send beacons of light into a dark and stormy sea so that we don’t crash. Elie Wiesel shared, “I don’t want my past to become anyone else’s future.” We have the opportunity to read stories that are both a testament and a warning.
- The treasures I mine in the books I have chosen, include:
- The greatest evil cannot wipe out hope.
- Tragedy doesn’t have to trump victory.
- The good in mankind is greater than the depravity in mankind.
- There is another way.
- Freedom comes through forgiveness.
Here is my list of books that have helped me find meaning and spur me on toward love and good deeds.
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
Boys in the Boat, Daniel Brown
Night, Elie Wiesel
The Railway Man, Eric Lomax
Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton
No Future Without Forgiveness, Desmond Tutu
The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom
A Knock at Midnight, Martin Luther King, Jr
To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee
What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey
Stories of Jesus, Eugene Peterson
Sayings of Jesus, Eugene Peterson
One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp
*This is a collection from 36 years, except for the Bible, which has been my companion since I was ten.