To all my brave book club friends—congratulations!
One book...14 weeks...817 pages... We did it! See, I told you there was no reason to be scared! I know you're feeling a sense of accomplishment now that you're finished! To everyone who took on the challenge—I applaud you!
So many upheavals, so much love and loss—and so much to think about! For all of its sweeping drama, the power of Anna Karenina, for me, comes down to Levin's thoughts in the very final lines of the very last page.
Throughout the book, Levin has been searching for meaning—the meaning of his work, his people, his homeland—his life itself. Always the thinker, never the believer, Levin looked for the meaning of life outside of his own heart, in books, philosophies and intellectual debate.
But it's only when Levin stops searching for answers outside himself that he begins to find the essence: "When he did not think, but lived, he constantly felt in his soul the presence of an infallible judge...he felt it at once." (p. 791)
Levin instinctively lives for others—his family, his people, his heritage. And it's that very bond to others, his innate willingness to give to others, that guides Levin to the faith and joy he had within him all along—despite the agitation of his soul.
In the smile of his infant son; the fear of losing his wife and child in a lightening storm; the beauty of Dolly's love for her brood; the muzhik who "lives for the soul" and "remembers God"—the taking care of the mundane details and responsibilities of the people he loves—Levin finally finds the meaning he's been seeking.
When you live in the grace of every moment, like Kitty does in her instinct for the cycle of birth and death...like Dolly does with her children...like the peasants do with their bond to the land and each other...your purpose and meaning are ever present. And, when Levin finally feels the grace of every moment—his answers are clear. "My life now, my whole life, regardless of all that may happen to me, every minute of it, is not only not meaningless...but has the unquestionable meaning of the good which it is in my power to put into it!" (p. 817)
That is such a powerful truth! It is what we give to others, the good that each of us has the power to put out into the world—that ultimately gives meaning to each of our lives. I believe that with all my heart!