The Wounds of God
No. 2 in the Hawk and the Dove Series
This book follows the same pattern as the first in the series. Everyday life in a family of seven can be fun, even though it involves a constant struggle to make ends meet.
The devoted mother picks opportunities to entertain her starry-eyed, fifteen-year-old daughter with legends of their ancestor, Father Peregrine. Many centuries earlier, he was the rather bizarre abbot of a Yorkshire monastery. The bumbling antics of his protégés, together with musings on the nature and will of God, paint a vivid picture.
Behind all the fun and discord, lie deep spiritual insights and refreshing accounts of transformed lives.
Brother Tom, so gently cared for by Father Peregrine, nevertheless succumbs to the temptations of the flesh. He gets drunk. He runs off with a pretty girl. And he returns months later, penitent and begging to return. His penance proves far more taxing than anyone would have expected. But he is lovingly readmitted to the monastery and again serves his abbot in humility.
The suave Père Guillaume from Burgundy, strolling along in corpulent magnificence, tries to encourage Father Peregrine to abandon his life of poverty and enjoy a more lavish lifestyle. Much later, he returns a little book of homilies he borrowed, accompanied by a personal letter. He writes that he has left his indulgent community to join the austere Carthusians. Peregrine summarises the French text: ‘He gave up all he had – status, comfort, wealth – in exchange for the peace of Jesus in his heart.’
Seven distinguished leaders of prestigious religious establishments gather to debate a theological question – with an ulterior motive. Peregrine is treated with disdain. However, he argues masterfully that God’s mercy greatly surpasses His desire for ‘justice’ – a metaphor for compliance with man-made ordinances.
The book is well written, the characters come to life and it includes some beautiful descriptions:
On rainy days we … watched, as the clouds cleared, the beauty of the wet hills holding the transparent, washed loveliness of the light like cupped hands holding the eucharist.
and pertinent spiritual admonitions:
God forbid that our lives display the sterile correctness of men who have learned what justice is, but never tasted mercy.
But I must admit it inspired me less than by the first book of the series. The methods applied in the monastery seemed harsh and the lessons burdensome. I wished for a more tangible association between the incidents experienced by the present-day family and the themes of the stories. And it would also have been interesting to know how young Melissa felt about the spiritual lessons described.