I've learned through all my choices and mistakes that holiness, healing and hope are never completely out of reach, although my faith and trust constantly fall and need to be helped to their feet again. Like Julie, I am taught and helped through what I love best —- things like work, and family, community enjoyed over a cup of tea, reading, writing, prayer, the music of many voices united in harmony. Singing, like writing, is one of my favorite forms of prayer. I sing alto, and alto harmonies sung alone can sound strange, sometimes even distinctly unappealing. Together with other singers, however, the alto line suddenly makes perfect sense, and the music can be arrestingly beautiful, especially if we strive and choose to sing our best. I have been blessed with some amazing "singers" of life all around me, both in the real world and in the fictional ones I have the privilege of getting to know.
Reading Gap Creek was a kind of spiritual song for me, in which I could unite my thoughts, my experiences, and my voice to the heroine's and lift them up to a higher plane. That is the great gift of stories, the gift of communion, of sharing in the lives of others — which is why I wanted to come to medical school in the first place. Robert Morgan's novel opened a wonderful passage through time for me, enabling me to enjoy that gift in a way I will not soon forget. How vivid were his descriptions of human experience; no other person has ever made me crave, and actually get up and make, cornbread (and unfortunately, like Julie, we had no jelly!). How well he understands how a woman falls in love, nurses anger against a matriarch, wishes for her husband's sympathetic embrace, resents the sometimes incessant slavery of keeping a home together, needs the company of other kind women, and rejoices in her reserves of strength. How beautifully he writes about gradual conversion, personal transformation, and the healing power of prayer; the scenes in which Hank makes peace between Julie and Ma Richards, and with Timmy Gosnell, and among my favorite in the entire book. Thank you for introducing me to this masterful writer's powerful, meaningful gifts. An artist's greatest asset is compassion, and he is gifted with it abundantly.
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