Reading is one of my great loves. And, as a writer, I consider it a critical piece of my ongoing training. Often I choose an author I’d like to learn from. Then, over the course of weeks or months, I read as much of his work as I can, absorbing the nuances of style, his command of language, the care with which he develops characters or themes, his secrets for capturing readers’ emotions and never letting them go.
For a couple months I’ve been reading Athol Dickson. I’d been completely unfamiliar with him and his writing until a mutual friend mentioned one of his books back in the fall, the same week I received an invitation to do a book review. Since then, I’ve read Lost Mission, River Rising and The Cure.
Friday I finished The Cure, having read it in little over a week. Dickson is truly a wonderful writer, one of the few whose works intrigue me. This last one captivated more than the others, I think, in large part because of its underlying story theme. If I had to sum it up in a sentence, it’d be this:
To live free is to embrace pain.
After much personal trial and error, I now believe this is true. I go to great effort to avoid pain or to numb it (most times unsuccessfully). I think we all do. However, through this complex story filled with severely flawed characters, I again faced the truth of pain’s blessing. As much as I hate it, it is in my moments of grief that I’m finally stripped of everything that hinders and free to reach toward the eternal. I believe pain is often the only teacher we truly listen to. In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis said,
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
If that is true, if pain is a means to connect more deeply to our spirituality, shouldn’t we be leaning into it rather than running away from it?
(photo courtesy of riesp, stock.xchng)