I was putting off re-reading "Brede" but I issued it from the Library (a first edition! Don't YOU wish you lived in a backwater?) last week and ripped through it, rather more quickly than did justice to Godden's lovely prose.
I read first it when I was twenty-one or so, a year or two before I had children. The only thing I remembered about it was Dame Philippa's story regarding Keith's death, and that was why I was reluctant to open it again.
Now I see that the Keith theme is much less than the whole of the book, not even the reason Philippa enters, but still I skipped fleetingly over Chapter Twelve. I can't help thinking that, since facing the death of a child is the worst thing that could befall me, or any woman, I might excuse myself a fictional dress-rehearsal.
This is cowardice, I know. I pray to be in God's will, and I know that nothing can separate me from the love of God, and that Job's reply to a similar agony was "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" And I confess that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." And as a sound Calvinist, I know, at least in theory, how to compute the presence of evil in the world, without in any way imputing wrongdoing to God.
However, I also know that I am and have been a foolish and careless parent, quite often, and the children have had more narrow escapes than I care to think about, and that as the years go by, I have ever more hostages to fortune, not fewer. I haven't been called to bear this sorrow - yet. But I might be, at any time, what with our harum-scarum ways.
So I guess my only option is more trust in God, in His care, and to believe Him when He assures me, "Underneath are the everlasting arms."
OK. Thank you, Mrs Duffy, for a chance to think that through.
Now on to "Ben and the Art of Monastery Maintenance" ;-)
Greetings to you all, dear friends.
Jesus Carries His Cross
59 minutes ago