This book survived my failure as a book store owner. It is the very last book I own, that was part of the original inventory. And I have just finished reading it for the first time.
In putting it down, I am humbled, I am haunted, I am shaken to the very core, that someone outside the Church is capable of writing so profoundly, about what goes on within it, and within the heart and mind of a person who is contemplating (much less accomplishing) monasticism. This book will haunt me to the end of my days in a wonderfully and fearfully, created way. Written by a Wall Street Journalist, about his father, who suddenly decides one day to become a monk, this book is an honest, no-holds barred, no gloves allowed look, at the way in which God often enters people’s lives: suddenly, abruptly, and with no apology. He is the Creator after all.
This book is a memoir, a fond remembrance of a boy for his beloved father, who left worldly life to become a monk. In the Roman Catholic tradition. For us Orthodox, our immediate reaction is “Oh. How theologically incomplete.”
And that is an incomplete analysis of one man’s journey of faith, as entangled as that is, and can be, without all the trappings of theology. Our theological differences aside: this is the story of a man’s journey toward the Truth, which is not just an idea, or an abstract concept. Our Lord said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. Our Lord, as theologically confounding as He is, is a Person! A Person who cares bottomlessly for human beings. This is an unforgettable book; a profound and heart wrenching story of one man’s pain, and another man’s joy. It is about loss, grief, hope, joy, all the things that make human life worth living.
For the Orthodox and Roman Catholic alike, I invite you to “lay aside all earthly cares” and enter in to a family that is torn apart, and healed, by Hope.
If you read nothing else this year, I hope you will read this. Leave the theological wrangling at the door where it belongs with our bishops.