Monday, July 14, 2008

Book #73

It was written in 1987 and the reason I bought it back then was because I had read two of her previous novels (Wheel of Fortune and Penmarric – which read like those typical mini series’ of the ‘80’s) and I thought this would be another ‘Thorn Birds’-type saga.

As luck would have it, it was more like the Thorn Birds (that whole priest storyline) than her earlier work and the story didn’t end after 434 (tiny fonted) pages. It goes on for 5 more books. When I first read it, I was in my mid 20’s, a new mother, and looking for mindless entertainment. The story, as it turns out, was deeper than I was.

The surface of it (a 37 year old Canon visits a Bishop to determine if there is any truth behind rumors of moral failure) was interesting enough to keep me reading to the end. And as future books became available, I purchased and read those as well.

Surprisingly, all the books are still in my collection, surviving the great book-purges of ’96 and ’03. I guess I knew they were worthy of re-reads in ways that Belva Plain, Helen Van Sykes and Danielle Steel novels weren’t.

Anyway, last summer, Carolyn and I went to Regent College to attend a free seminar on the topic of Spiritual Directors and on our drive home, Carolyn mentions that her interest in Spiritual Directors was piqued when she read Glittering Images.
“You’ve read that book?” I asked, astounded that someone else had read such an obscure 20 year old title.
She had. And she remembered way more details regarding the story line than I, including the character who helped the Canon figure out why he felt he needed a mask to hide the real person he was.

A few weeks ago, on our way home from another free lecture, the topic of Spiritual Directors came up again. So I decided to give that novel another read. For a non-Christian, tantalizing, titillating, sex-filled, best seller-type book, there sure were a lot of truths in it:

“No demon can withstand the power of Christ.”

“Once true repentance has been achieved, the way’s open for the start of a new life.”

“With understanding, forgiveness becomes possible.”

“You need to restore the balance to your spiritual life which your private problems have distorted.”

And when Darrow, the Spiritual Director, met a messed up, on-the-verge-of-a-breakdown Charles for the first time, he said, “Of course, there’s the Charles that the world is allowed to see, but I’m interested in meeting the self that nobody else meets. I’d like to help him come out from behind that glittering image and set down this appalling burden which has been tormenting him for so long.”
“He can’t come out.”
“Why not?”
“You wouldn’t like him or approve of him.”
Charles, when a traveler’s staggering along with a back-breaking amount of luggage he doesn’t need someone to pat him on the head and tell him how wonderful he is. He needs someone who’ll offer to share the load. Think of me as the porter, and consider the possibility that life might be less exhausting if you unloaded some of your bags onto my empty trolley. I’m not here to criticize the quality of your luggage or to order which bag you should put down. My function is simply to offer you the chance to get rid of any bag which you don’t want to carry any more, but the decision to keep or discard each bag must be yours and yours alone.”


I love that. I think a personal spiritual director would have come in handy this past year. I have some luggage to put on a trolley…

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