More Transformational Fiction–Perfect Summer Read
This week I read Murray Pura’s The Wings of Morning, a WWI novel set in Amish country. You’re right—that combination sounded like a conundrum to me, too. But I realized, as I read, that the challenges facing the Amish regarding war, the bearing of arms, the essence and sacredness of life, is something we all must come to terms with in one way or another—war time and peacetime.
The Wings of Morning was beautifully woven with Scripture and truth from many viewpoints–no preaching–and the angst of life in full bloom: When do we follow the footsteps of our elders simply because they are our elders and have forged, possibly even dictated, the way? When do we step out of our mold, knowing we rift families and our future, for the sake of conscience, even for the sake of those we love, though they may not know it or understand our purpose?
All of my uncles, who were of age, fought later, in WWII, and between them covered the gamut of forces: Air Force, Navy, Army, Marines and U.S. Coast Guard. My father, medically exempted for seizures from a blow to the head, found ways to serve on the home front —rubber drives, blackout duty, collecting metals, etc. But none of those plucked the stinger of shame from his conscience as friends marched to war, or diminished the cut of raised eyebrows from neighbors and peers. After all, he looked like a normal, healthy male, out of uniform and safe at home while their husbands, sons and brothers were far away placing their lives on the line.
My father-in-law, raised and bound by his beliefs as a conscientious objector, found those decisions less than straight forward. He believed Hitler should be stopped, believed he should serve, but couldn’t kill. Drafted, he served as an Army medic in the U.S., on Tinian, and later in Japan. Not bearing arms was no place for a coward, though he was accused of being just that—an accusation taken back by his greatest tormentor after saving that man’s eyesight. It was a story fit for a book.
Pura told the essence of that story and so much more, showing that we can all find ways to serve if we’re willing. In the midst of war or during peacetime, whether we bear arms–risking all to kill the enemy, or serve without arms–risking all, to save lives, there are opportunities. He showed that we’re not called to passivity, but to action as the hands and feet of Christ, living out our privilege and obligation to help and heal.
My mind was opened as I read, my heart transformed by this fine book. I was reminded of my uncles, father, father-in-law, and men of the WWII generation–that things weren’t always as they appeared, that snap judgements were too easily made. That truth is just as applicable today.
Similar in time period to Promise Me This, Pura’s book was also similar in telling a heart-wrenching story beautifully, in a way that made my heart sing. Well done!
So, what are you reading this week? And what will you carry with you from the story?
It’s officially summer, so how about sitting on the porch swing as we talk? We’ll clink glasses of sweet iced tea, garnished with a sprig of fresh mint, and enjoy this lovely day.
Looking forward to next week, where we’ll meet here, in the garden.
God’s blessings for you,