I never thought this place could be beautiful

One of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books, Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson.  Ben made me think of it again.  A boy has gone with his father to find his grandfather’s grave, and after an arduous journey they have arrived.  His father has made the journey out of guilt, sadness and obligation, and a desire to somehow reconcile with his own dead father and find forgiveness. 

“Every prayer seemed long to me at that age, and I was truly bone tired.  I tried to keep my eyes closed, but after a while I had to look around a little.  And this is something I remember very well.  At first I thought I saw the sun setting in the east; I knew where the east was because the sun was just over the horizon when we got there that morning.  Then I realized that what I saw was a full moon rising just as the sun was going down.  Each of them was standing on its edge, with the most wonderful light between them.  It seemed as if you could touch it, as if there were palpable currents of light passing back and forth, or as if there were great taut skeins of light suspended between them.  I wanted my father to see it, but I knew I would have to startle him out of his prayer, and I wanted to do it the best way, so I took his hand and kissed it.  And then I said, “Look at the moon.”  And he did.  We just stood there until the sun was down and the moon was up.  They seemed to float on the horizon for quite a long time, I suppose because they were both so bright you couldn’t get a clear look at them.  And that grave, and my father and I, were exactly between them, which seemed amazing to me at the time, since I hadn’t given much thought to the nature of the horizon. 

“My father said, ‘I would never have thought this place could be beautiful.  I’m glad to know that.'”


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