Today we finish Shiloh by Helena Sorensen. Once again Helena offered such interesting answers to my questions I thought we would jump right in.
Let’s start off with another non-question :). So, clearly I am wrong about Simeon and Amos’s relationship; but I kept thinking about David and his mighty men who risked their lives to get him water from the well and then David poured it out. I juxtaposed it with the role of water in Shiloh — both the power and the symbol of water. And then honestly? Part way through this section I thought of my parallels with Frodo and Samwise (from LOTR).<
Don’t get me started on Tolkien. I could go all day.
I have four pages of notes from this section and as I review them, two of the themes that emerge are forgetting and remembering. In our (real) lives, where do you see us wrestling with these themes?
The short answer to that question is “Everywhere.” We tend to live like materialists. We’re trained to rely on our five senses and on our experiences to answer our questions about God and the world and ourselves. It requires a great deal of energy and practice to look beyond the physical world and see the deeper realities. I think we’re hiding or denying or deadening ourselves in big and small ways all the time, because it’s exhausting to live fully in both worlds. Remember the ghosts who enter the borderlands of Heaven in Lewis’s The Great Divorce? They can hardly bear to walk on the grass. Every blade is hard as a diamond. The grass is infinitely more substantial than they are, and they have to gain substance in order for it to give way beneath their feet. It seems to me that whenever we see with spiritual eyes, whenever we cling to the unseen, we grow a bit more capable of walking in the fields of the kingdom of God. We grow a little more real.
Another theme was the importance—or value—of seeing. Neyla says, “You see yourself through the eyes of the Shadow. Do not be fooled.” How can seeing who we really are change the stories of our lives? I’m wondering here about the ripple effects of seeing our own value, the value in others, in creation, and even seeing God and His unending love for us.
There are many times when I’ve wanted to go back and change that phrase. It’s tricksy. 🙂 Taken at face value, the reader might assume that the eyes of the Shadow see him/her as incapable or worthless. But I don’t believe that at all. It might have been better to call them “shadowed eyes.” In any case, it would be far more accurate to say that the Enemy, in whatever form he appears, sees us better than we see ourselves. He wouldn’t go to such great lengths to discourage and derail and defeat us if he was not terribly frightened of our beauty, our power, our worth, and our settled position in the kingdom. We are glorious, dangerous children of God. If we really understood that, we’d stop cowering in the dark. If we really understood that, there’s no telling what we could do.
Also, what we really believe about everything always becomes clear in the end. We can talk about God’s love all day long, but without a Spirit revelation of His love at a deep, personal level, nothing in our lives will give evidence to the love of God. I could wax eloquent about God’s goodness and provision, but I still have a major hang-up about my kids getting sick. It’s a serious panicky anxiety thing. Though the truth is that God is good, that He will care for my children (and me) no matter what physical illness finds its way into our home, I can only give lip service to that truth. I’m not yet mixed with it. It’s pretty obvious to anyone who knows me. But when I’m set free from the deep-down lie, it’ll show, too. Every person with whom I come in contact will sense it. They’ll know the peace of it; they’ll long to experience it for themselves. And there is just no end to those ripple effects.
I took it the way I think you meant it. So often we DO see ourselves through the eyes of the Shadow. I think it breaks The One who knows our true identity’s heart.
How long did you work on Shiloh? What’s your writing process like?
Shiloh took about 2 years to complete. My writing process looks something like this:
I never imagined I’d reach “q.” Sorry.
No need to say sorry! It’s interesting to hear about your process.
One last one, what are you working on now?
I’ve recently finished a stand-alone story called Half-Bald Hill. It’s about the inadequacy of “balance” and about conquering death. Now I’m trying my hand at a children’s book set in the town where I grew up: Fort Lonesome, Florida.
Helena, it has been so fun to have you with us this month and we look forward to reading Seeker later this year.
I loved the last bit of the acknowledgments: To “Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of seat into the morning.” (Amos 5:8)
Book clubbers, what did you think of this section? As I read, I kept thinking of how much we get the Shadow because we see it every day. We see people in bondage. We see darkness. And we also get to see people set free. How did reading this section either challenge or bolster your view of yourself? This calling?
See you in the comments!
P.S. Next week Kimberlee will be here sharing with us about XX from XX. The following week will start our spring break Invitations From God by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun (Giveaway next week!)