The Faith of Job

I have completed the first draft of my new novel.

During our time in Tucson, my wife and I befriended Jessica, a wonderful woman 10 years our senior.  In those days, we attended daily Mass at the Redemptorist Center in the Sonoran Desert.  Jessica did, too and was always accompanied by whichever service dog she was training at the time.  Jessica always sat in the back row against the stone wall with her friend Joanne.  Marie and I sat directly in front of her.

Jessica allowed no one to touch her dogs, no one, that is except Marie.  We frequently felt his cold, wet muzzle nuzzling between the seats for a friendly pat on the head.  Jessica finally gave in and made it a practice to allow her dog to greet Marie every morning, most often with a wet kiss that she would reward with a big hug.  That routine lasted six years until Marie and me left the desert for the four seasons of west-central Wisconsin.

One year after we left, our good friend Father Paul sent us a letter informing us that Jessica had passed away.  She was 80.  Based on our many conversations, I know she led a full and rewarding life.  She was born in Holland, grew up there and visited every year or so.  I never knew her maiden name.

At the time of her death, I had been working on several manuscripts.  Days after I received the news from Father Paul, the seeds of a story took root, inspired by my old friend Jessica.

In May 2018, I posted a tidbit about my ‘working manuscript,’ and wrote that I hoped to have the first draft completed by the end of 2018.  I didn’t, but…

I am pleased to report that I completed the first draft several weeks ago.  As I typically do when I start a manuscript, I wrote this ‘note to self’ to focus my mind on the task when I began the manuscript on January 4, 2018.

“Despite all the crap and evil in the world, there is ALWAYS someone who will step up and do the right thing.”

Though very colloquial, that note remains the theme of the story summed up in this short statement about Mrs. Houthakker’s daughter’s young friend Jessica who plays a prominent role in the tale…

“The common thread – moral, spiritual, ethical or whatever you might call it – that runs from her youth through her old age is her belief in ‘the good.’  It begins here on Schimmelpennickstraat and sprouts from her relationship with Mrs. Houthakker and her daughter.”

Like my friend Jessica of many years in Tucson, the young Jessica in my story believes in ‘the Good.’

Set in WWII Holland, this will be my seventh novel, the fifth historical and the second circa WWII.

I have not settled on a title.  What started out as The Fortune Teller’s Daughter, evolved to Mrs. Houthakker’s Daughter, then to The Faith of Job.  Of course, the title will come as we advance through the editing process.

Regardless, I look forward to the publication early in 2020.  Thanks for your continued support.

Living Tobit

TobitI open my novel Tobit and the Hoodoo Man, A Mystical Tale from the Civil War South with these 89 words…

“Once upon a time, the only sounds that came from the sky were sounds of nature.  The buzz of bees, the call of a soaring hawk, and the roar of thunder that strikes fear into the hearts of restless children before advancing east to other lands that live in the lassitude of unbelief.  Those sounds of life still bless us with their grace, but there are not so many bees and fewer hawks, and the thunder is more distant.  I cherish the sounds and the memories they recall.”

Continue reading Living Tobit

Gethsemane

GasparA rudimentary form of Ignatian Spirituality has become an important part of my life.  I practiced it daily as I wrote Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ.  I share the ‘Gethsemane’ sequence with you on this solemn day when billions of people around the world commemorate the final meal of Jesus, called the Christ.

Gethsemane from Gaspar

Tomorrow, I will share the ‘Passion’ sequence as a downloadable PDF

Tree Rings, Chapter Ten, Obituary, Howard Glenn Kraay

Howard Glenn Kraay, 1944

My granddaughters asked if I had pictures of their great-grandfather ‘during the war.’  As I searched for pictures, I found a document he wrote in 1995, an autobiography of sorts, two decades before he passed away on June 3, 2015.  I am proud to include it as a chapter in Tree Rings.

Tree Rings, Chapter Ten, Obituary, Howard Glenn Kraay
Published: February 9, 2019

Reading

“Read with a pen, pencil, or highlighter in hand, marking in the book or taking notes on paper.  The idea that books should not be written in is an unfortunate holdover from grade school, a canard rooted in a misunderstanding of what makes a book valuable.  The true worth of books is in their words and ideas, not their pristine pages.”

Karen Swallow Prior
“The Good Reader”
Plough Quarterly, Winter 2019 Continue reading Reading

Observe with Passion

 

Mary Oliver

I’ve not read Mary Oliver’s 1984 Pulitzer Prize winning collection of poems American Primitive. Ms. Oliver is often compared to Emily Dickinson and her work frequently focuses on the natural world. In 2016, I read her collection of essays Upstream in which she reflects on her willingness to lose herself within the beauty and mysteries of nature and the world of literature. Even though I am an admittedly slow reader, I believe I ‘rushed’ through that first reading for it left no impression on me. Continue reading Observe with Passion