Our book group met last night to discuss PLAINSONG by Kent Haruf. It’s not for all with its raw and seedy parts. But, like life, the story reveals grace from the unlikely, as well as graphic reminders of what it means to be human, both good and bad, along life’s bumpy road to redemption, if we so choose.
Some parts left me cringing, recoiling from the filth, from evil at play, like watching or listening to today’s news. Other scenes came across so holy, I wept.
Raymond and Harold McPheron, old bachelor farmers who take in a pregnant teenager, seem part of the Christmas story, making room for a kid in need of kindness. They hover and handle with calloused hands and inexperienced hearts, one girl, then her baby, providing a barricade of protection built by love they’re newly practicing.
When Victoria, new Mama, offers her baby to be held by Raymond he responds, “I don’t know about that. I don’t want to harm her.” But he picks her up, “holding her fearfully out in front of his old face…Well my goodness, he said after a minute. Well, my my. My lord almighty.”
Later Raymond’s brother enters the hospital room. “Harold was still dressed in his work clothes, with hay dust on the shoulders of his canvas chore jacket bringing with him the smell of the outdoors and of cattle and of sweat. I better not get over-close, he told her. I’m not tidy.”
Like the shepherds long ago, “not tidy.”
Most of all, like us, unless we deceive ourselves.
And isn’t that just like “the Lord Almighty” to let us filthy folks take hold of him, and if we choose, be touched, transformed by Love, along our rough roads to redemption.
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