A legal size envelope arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. I looked at the return address label and it was from a woman I met in the retreat house a month or so ago.
Her name is Barbara and she told me when she was here that she was writing a novel, and asked if I would take the time to read it. I told her sure, just send it to the monastery. She sent me the first and second chapters.
I set aside some time and started reading and was fascinated with what she wrote. It is a page turner and I was captivated. When I finished reading the section of the novel, I wanted to know more, to find out where it was going. I could ask her for the rest of the manuscript, or I could wait till it comes out in book form.
She was hesitant to send it to me. Of her work, she said, "It is nothing great. Just a murder mystery." Well, I am not a professional editor or reader, but I think the writing is great and shows a lot of promise.
It amazes me, how writers can take characters and develop them, give them life and credibility, and then place them on a page. And with each turn of the page, a story develops. There has to be sequence, continuity, "real" dialogue, fine-tuned plotting and exciting action. I am in awe as to how writers do that.
Barbara is a medical examiner, and she has taken her experience and woven it into the fabric of the novel. It is good. It is real.
It brings to mind something. It seems that we were born from a story. Our lives, how they spin and turn through the years, do so while continuously weaving a story.
It is always there. We tell stories about our lives. Others look at us, and come up with their own stories as to who we are and where we come from. When we die, even more stories will be told. It seems that we are born into an eternal story, a story with a beginning, but no end.
This leads me to wonder what God is like. It is said that we are made in the divine image, made in the very likeness of God. We are His story, a long narrative in the making, complete with a growing cast of characters, successive chapters, and scenery that abounds in beauty and scope; at its heart, is a tantalizing mystery.
We do not know the end, much less the beginning. We are at the very center of the drama. We are not only caught up in it, we make it happen -- we are the action as well as the page turners.
We are aware of our involvement and our inescapable responsibility to create something with the gifts of time, history, experience and fate. There is no getting around it. We are, for better or worse, big time stars in this ongoing drama of God's story.
We are in it, but cannot redeem it. We do not have the power to provide a satisfying conclusion to the drifting nature of the work in progress.
There are so many loose ends, terrifying possibilities, horrible consequences of what seems to be a flawed, deranged humanity.
So it is we need a Divine Writer, one who will realize the redemptive finale to what He has written, an end that will tie all the loose ends together, wrap them up and bring them home.
I am sure Barbara will send me the rest of her book. Then I will know how the good read ended.
But the both of us will have to wait out God's revelation. Looking around, I can tell that He is a fine writer. Something tells me that with all the crazy turns in life, beauty will have the last and closing word.
Father James Stephen (Jeff) Behrens, O.C.S.O., serves at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Ga. Highway 212 S.W., Conyers. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.