As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.
I Heard The Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven is a slice-of-life novel about a young Anglican vicar, unaware he has a terminal illness, sent to a remote parish of Native American villages on the coast of British Columbia, Canada. The area is stunning in its natural beauty, but so remote that transportation–whether to get supplies in or people in or out–is via canoes, boats or seaplane–all subject to weather conditions.
The young priest commits himself to the task of ministering to the natives as he copes with loneliness, the insecurity of living in an unfamiliar culture, poor living conditions, and piloting a boat in the sometimes harsh weather and rough seas.
The villagers, who in the past sometimes dealt with priests who expected to be served rather than to serve, are polite but not friendly. They learn Mark is different from previous vicars as he helps the people any way he can, stands up for the needs of the tribe, attempts to learn the unwritten language, and respects the native traditions and beliefs, even though he doesn’t understand or agree with them.
As Mark rejoices with the people in their good times and suffers with them through their losses, bonds of deep affection grow until he becomes as one of them. When it’s time for the vicar to leave, the villagers ask the Bishop to allow Mark to stay.
Comments: I reread this book a few weeks ago. It’s one I don’t really want to give away. Without being “preachy” the novel shows commitment, humility, and giving oneself in service to others. For me, this book is a “treasure”.