Out from Gilead

by Paul Burmeister

Just finished reading Marilynne Robinson's Gilead (Picador, 2004.)  From page 242:
 "It was just that kind the place was meant to encourage, that a harmless life could be lived here unmolested. 'There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for every age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.' . . . (the prophet Zechariah) says it will be marvelous in the eyes of the people, and so it might well be to people almost anywhere in this sad world. To play catch of an evening, to smell the river, to hear the train pass. These little towns were once the bold ramparts meant to shelter just such peace."

Our sad world, indeed. Who can find such peace? And how? Robinson's description is not really about little moments, noticed and remembered. Robinson's description is about a way of life, in a place.