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Is it weird when I'm singing a worship song and thinking of characters in a book I just read, and in a sense praying for them? Probably. But sometimes it just happens. With an especially phenomenal book and an especially powerful song.

This week I'm down at YouthFront Camp South serving as the Storyteller (camp speaker). And loving it. It's been a wonderful little vacation in so many ways. One thing I've accomplished in my free time, other than getting a tan, is reading "Cry, The Beloved Country" by Alan Paton. This book has been on my shelf for years. After visiting South Africa in 2003, I knew I needed to read it but just never got around to it until now. Well, I should not have waited so long. What a masterpiece. Everyone should read this book. Everyone.

If you've read it, you'll remember that the book finishes with the promise of agriculture--land restored to health and a literal salvation of the people who live in the valley of Umzimkulu. After the events that have occurred throughout the book, this promise is more full of life and hope than one would normally associate with farming. And the poetry that describes it renders me speechless.

So, when I gathered here at the YouthFront Camp chapel and sang these words, I prayed for Africa. I prayed that he would also make literal things out of the dust, create resources for people who have none. Though the characters of Paton's book are fictional, there are hundreds just like them out there in the world.

All this earth Could all that is lost ever be found?
Could a garden come up from this ground at all
?
You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us

-from "You Make Beautiful Things" by Gungor, listen here.

"Yes, it is the dawn that has come. The titihoya wakes from sleep, and goes about its work of forlorn crying. The sun tips with light the mountains of Ingeli and East Griqualand. The great valley of Umzimkulu is still in darkness, but the light will come there also. For it is the dawn that has come, as it has come for a thousand centuries, never failing. But when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret."
-Closing paragraph of "Cry, the Beloved Country" by Alan Paton

2 comments:

Amanda Loughlin said...

wanna swap jane eyre and this book? it's one i've wanted to read, too.

Maureen said...

oof. had i known you would expect me to read jane eyre based on this post, i would have thought twice. ha ha. how many pages? I'll consider it. Bring your copy to book club next weekend and i'll bring mine and we'll see what happens. ;)