First was a book by Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. This is a story of an adolescent autistic boy on a quest to solve the mystery of how the neighbor’s dog dies. We see the world through his eyes in a surprising and revealing way as he attempts to not only solve the mystery, but also make sense of his world that has changed since his family broke apart. It was a touching story that gave me insight into what it is like to be a person on the outside of society trying to communicate with the conventional world.
The second book, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed is the story of one woman’s walk on the Pacific Crest Trail. After the death of her mother, the author of Wild finds herself unconsolable and embarks on a quest to find hope and healing by walking the PCT solo. Her story is one of resilience and determination as she endures the hardships of hiking the trail.
Beauty Will Save the World, by Brian Zahnd was the third book I read this summer and it is the one that most resonates. The ideas set out by Zahnd provide the answers and peace for which the characters in the other two books were looking. In this book, Zahnd presents the argument that Christianity has lost its sense of beauty; we have lost the beauty of the gospel. In our culture of convenience and practicality, of technology and prosperity we have lost the simple, beautiful, and mysterious message that Jesus set out in the Beatitudes. This is the message that we are to LOVE one another. We are to humble ourselves, put others first, forgive, extend mercy, and serve one another. We are to love as He first loved us.
My favorite chapter in Beauty Will Save the World, was the last one, titled ‘A Shelter from the Storm’ where Zahnd contrasts the kingdom of God with the kingdoms of this world and shows the deep difference between them. He challenges our churches and institutions of faith to become places of refuge in our world that is filled with violence, ugliness, greed, and power. As Christians we need to live out our faith with love, being beacons of hope, care, and healing for all people.
I am so fortunate to work with people who also understand the importance of appreciating the beauty of living the Christian life. I am thankful that they share my passion to help young people understand what it truly means to call yourself a Christian in today’s world. I am thankful that their desire is also for our school, Holy Cross Lutheran Academy, to be a place of refuge for our students. A place where they can be themselves, exploring their gifts and talents as grow in their faith and knowledge of who they are as people of God.