“Good media builds good community.” That’s as true today as it has been in our religious traditions for thousands of years. Now, you can play a role—and perhaps win a signed copy of my new book Short Stuff from a Tall Guy in the process. Below is a prose poem, based on a chapter from a classic novel published nearly a century ago. The story has shaped lives around the world.
YOUR CHALLENGE— Name the book and author. Because the following is a prose-poem based on and extending from one famous portion of the book, you can’t use Google to find the source of the following text. But, read the text and think about it! Talk to friends. You’re free to repost or to print out this text and share it in your small group. RESPOND by emailing your thoughts to ReadTheSpirit@gmail.com. From the emails that correctly identify the original book, I will draw three winners and mail them each a personally dedicated copy of Short Stuff. Then, I will return online to talk more about how powerful stories shape our lives—and I will tell you the moving story _ behind _ the famous novel.
THE TWO OF US
By BENJAMIN PRATT
It’s an ancient story;
yet only a day has passed since the latest news.
An old friend—
a beautiful, once-vibrant, gracious
breath of life—
Life’s winter season
racked body and soul.
The storyteller knows our questions:
“Why must we fall?”
“What happens to us when we have fallen?”
We hold gloved hands
and lean into the bitter wind,
determined to complete our daily walk.
We shiver from the bitter news
as sleet begins to bite our faces.
Too cold to talk, our teeth chatter—
we surrender, return home
with heavy hearts and cold parts.
Off come the layers,
out spill the words,
“You never know who’s going to go next.”
For a moment we hold each other,
transferring tender warmth.
The phone rings and a new father bubbles:
“Our child is born!
“Mother and daughter are doing well.”
“Oh, such sweet news. Gentle kisses to
Momma and your new daughter.”
I mumble, “Others come to take our places when we’re gone and after them still others,
She says, “Which one of us will go first?”
“There’s still plenty of time to worry about that,” I say.
There is silence.
Then, she replies, “How kind you are.”
We hold each other and our questions:
Do you remember when we first met?
Do you remember how beautiful it was when…?
Do you remember the warm night on the sand when…?
Do you remember when we were so angry that…?
Finally I say it aloud: “Let’s remember.”
Do you remember?
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN …
Identify the original book and author. Email your thoughts to ReadTheSpirit@gmail.com
Good media builds good community. It’s a truth that touches the core of our spiritual traditions.
OAK LEAVES. (Photo by Pierre Selim, released for public use via Wikimedia Commons.)