With all the scare in my life, lately, Ted graciously took the second blog of the week for me. I so married up. Today, he’s delving into a book that’s a must read, Atticus, by Ron Hansen.
“His name was Atticus Cody. He was sixty-seven years old and a cattleman without cattle, the owner of six oil rigs and four hundred forty acres of high plains and sandhills in Antelope County, Colorado.” So begins one of my all time favorite books, Atticus, by Ron Hansen. National Bestseller, and National Book Award Finalist, Atticus did something for me that only two other pieces of fiction (Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, and my wife’s incredible book, The Branding) have done, namely, deepened my understanding of God’s grace and our need to express it, live it.
The story is brilliantly written, and I intend that in the visual sense, for Hanson writes like a master artist paints: layering different colors until the character not only takes form, but soul, as the work exudes not just a story, but emotion, depth, and meaning. This is no still life, however, nor is it a portrait. Hansen’s work brings to life not just the complexities of the characters, but instills in the reader a greater sense of longing, soulfulness, within themselves.
Atticus has always been an incredibly disciplined man. That discipline worked well for him, bringing great success, and a wonderful family. Well… at least the eldest son, who, too, is successful in the world’s eyes, though distant from the family. Then there is the youngest, son. The wayward one. Atticus receives news that his youngest son has died in his party hearty lifestyle in Mexico, and travels down to the town of Resurrection to retrieve his son’s body. Once there, things become confused, and Atticus, with all of his wisdom and position, believes that his son has in fact been murdered. So begins his quest for justice.
The story is so intensely poignant in that I found myself able to identify with all of the major characters, the father, the “successful” son, and the wayward son. Atticus, though stands as the hero. Though from everyone’s perspective, he is nothing if not a fully self-made man, his wealth coming form disciplined life, hard work, and raw perspicuity, in his own heart of hearts, the protagonist feels like a failure, due to the transgressions and insults of his youngest son.
Not wishing to divulge the storyline, because you REALLY HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK, I won’t tell more. I will, however, say this. Through the story, it becomes clear that, while unbelievably successful from an outsider’s perspective, Atticus still has room to grow. It is through what he perceives as his greatest failure that that opportunity for growth not only presents itself, but is actualized.
When Grace Will Lead Me Home
Hey, Friends, the deal is this—we all have veneers. They do their duty to hide what is beneath, to make the surface prettier, to project a sense of success. However, we all have the ugliness beneath those veneers, though some more so than most. Those of us willing to face the ugliness within, well, those are the ones who will not only find healing, but also a new sense of humbled success, as the paths of our lives veer in a new direction, with new understandings.
So, when you see the offender coming to you, don’t just wait to greet him or her, run to them. Even if the offender is yourself. Truthfully, none of us are above the prodigal. The sooner we know that, the sooner healing will come. Yes, we all have cracks in our lives. Guess what—that is what gives the love, the light, a way in. Live Loved, Give Love. Run down that road to embrace… Someone at the end of it has been waiting a long time to welcome you home.