Book Nine: Poustinia by Catherine De Hueck Doherty
This book is about Poustinia (in case the title didn’t give it away). Poustinia is a Russian word meaning desert or a quiet lonely place. However, it is also a Russian tradition of taking time away to pray, to spend time in silence and stillness, to spend time in the mysterious presence of God. It is something that a friend here has practiced for some time and something that I am interested in trying to do on a regular basis ( 24 hours per month, although I already missed month three). For me Alice Springs is a place that really calls me to prayer and the hut that Keith and friends built is such a perfect setting beautiful, simple and quiet. Anyway, my friend lent me the book. It is an old book and thus some of it was a little bit old fashioned for me and the author is a very strong Catholic and it certainly had more of a Catholic flavour to it than I am used to but all in all it was very inspiring and gave me some new things to ponder.
“One day we realise all these geographical spaces are not enough, that they do not satisfy one’s desire for space. At that point we begin the journey inward. This journey is far more beautiful and satisfies far more ddeeply. The poustinia is involved in the great journey inward, exploring the vast spaces of God. A goal to strive for is when the need to have becomes the need not to have.”
Book Ten: The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville
I heard Kate speak at the writer’s festival when I first got here. She read some parts of this book and they were lovely and so I had been meaning to get to it for awhile. It was lovely to read. In fact I had to try hard not to read it too fast as to try and savour it a little bit. It is a story about a friendship between a white lieutenant in the first fleet and a young aboriginal girl. It was very hopeful really which is not often the case with indigenous issues so it was a breath of fresh air.
“What he had not learned from Latin or Greek he was learning from the people of New South Wales. It was this: you did not learn a language without entering into a relationship with the people who spoke it with you. He friendship with Tagaran wasn’t a list of objects or the words for things it was the slow constructing of the map of a relationship.”
Kate got the idea from some real diaries that were found in which the liutenant records some of the language he was learning and writes about some of the interactions he has with the girl. Kate Grenville is truly gifted in the way that she can write fiction novels about real events that happened (particularly to do with indigenous issues) that some how get to the truth of the matter better than any history book would. Not to mention I am sure they engage people and get them concerned about the issues more than a history book.
“The girls lay quietly and he went back to the notebook. How would he record the joke that he and this child had shared? What had passed between Tagaran and himself had gone beyond vocabulary and grammar. It was the heart of talking not just words and their meanings. But how did you write down truth in a notebook when the truth was far more than the words and actions. When even in English he couldn’t describe what had passed between them. He would have to be willing to go beyond the literal, to take words into some place where they were no longer simply descriptive”.
Book Eleven: Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coehlo
This book isn’t actually book eleven. I think it was more like book six or seven but I forgot to write about it back then so it has become book eleven (and coincidentally it is called eleven minutes). This book is a love story, a love story between a prostitute and a famous artist. It was a very confronting book for me, a lot of dirty sex scenes in all their gory details, but after getting through all that I quite liked it. I like Paulo Coehlo’s writing and his thoughts about life even if they are not completely the same as mine. He managed to write a story about a prostitute, Maria who was a fantastic character, without been in anyway judgmental or condescending while also acknowledging that the work is not good for the souls of anyone involved.
I don’t care whether it was once sacred or not, I hate what I do. It’s destroying my soul, making me lose touch with myselg, teaching me that pain is a reward, that money buys everything and justifies everything. No one around me is happy; the clients know they are paying for something that should be fore free, and that’s depressing. The women know that they have to sell something they would like to give out of pleasure and affection. I need to love – that’s all. I need to love. Life is too short, or too long, for me to allow myself the luxury of living it so badly.
And I like stories about messy, broken people and their paths to redemption. I also like stories about love when they don’t fit the format of romantic comedy and this didn’t.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I realise that I didn’t go into that cafe by chance; really important meetings are planned by souls long before the bodies see each other. Generally speaking, these meetings occur when we reach a limit, when we need to die and be reborn.