Category Archives: The Power of Prose~Good Reads

Books and Articles Reviewed in reference to healing, coping, and basic survival.

To Speak of Duty

Early stages of the "Panama" painting from last winter. @SheilaLynnK Art Studio
Early stages of the “Panama” painting from last winter. AtSheilaLynnK Art Studio

From Fireflies in a Fruit Jar ~ John S. Workman

“We shall speak today of duty.

(Did we lose our audience?)

“Duty, It is a noble, if unpopular, word.”

‘Duty: a moral or legal obligation; an assigned service or responsibility’conduct due to others.’

“Duty.Responsibility.Obligation.Service. Heavy, words, indeed, guaranteed to chase many away.”

“Speak to me not of duty,” we fun-lovers say. “Speak rather of pleasure and happiness and leisure and license. Take your duty and peddle it elsewhere.”

“So it goes. but sometime, somewhere, someone must speak of duty. 

Duty, of course, has many names. One person’s duty is another’s “petty obsession.” One’s duty is another’s impertinence. To nominate something to duty status is to start an argument….”

“Duty has many lovers, few students, fewer servants. But there are, we contend, some indisputable duties held in common…

  • To be a faith-full people in an age when keeping faith is a seemingly impossible feat.
  • To be seers of beauty and joy in a world where wonder often is crushed by human greed.
  • To be encouragers of one’s fellow human beings.
  • To be strugglers toward love, pointers toward the way even though one may stumble awkwardly along the path.
  • To be, however frail and unfit, keepers of dreams and custodians of visions.
  • To be bringers of light, however small into dark places, however, large.

An old admonition remains: there’s a duty to be fulfilled, little children of light. Go forth and shine.” 

~“Fireflies In A Fruit Jar; On Religion, Politics, and other Wonders”      By A Southern Preacher-Turned Journalist.  John S. Workman With Sally Crisp. August House/Little Rock Publishers, 1988.


The Right Words, The Right Time

The written word…can take us to inspiring and validating places. Shapes and lines combine to give voice to our experiences while reflecting our intentions and recording our dreams.

New Life, No Instructions~by Gail Caldwell  is an appealingly comfortable story about how we react when we find ourselves fully submerged in Plan B without full knowledge that Plan A has been discarded.

Ms. Caldwell says, “Most of all I wrote this story because I wanted to say something about hope and the absence of it, and how we keep going anyway. About second chances, and how they’re sometimes buried amid the dross, even when you’re poised for the downhill grade, the narrative can always turn out to be a different story from what you expected….as long as I keep moving, I am alright. …Sometimes force is all you have and that has to be enough.”  

She does not speak of the force with which we compel others to action but the force that is the momentum we need to keep ourselves in motion. It is a compulsion which defies stagnation.

Companionably coping,with words we confront our fears and find our courage.

“We do get up, of course.,which seems a wonder. People stumble forth from whole scale atrocities and personal tragedies and ordinary miseries and find a way  to go to the store, talk to God, buy bulbs for the fall planting. And yet I sensed that I had not just been pummeled by death but reshaped by it, poised now at some crucial  junction  between darkness and endurance, which is the realists’ version of hope. It seemed that every gesture we make to way lay loss – a walk taken, a symphony heard or composed- was either  a trick on death or a transient reprieve, and  I felt so saddened from this insight that I didn’t have much fight left in me. I remember trying to describe the state to friends and getting a smile of sympathetic, slightly vacant concern, as though they cared about but could not envision this forest where I had landed. I am trying not to generalize despair I said, but I didn’t mean I was depressed- I wanted to explain the color of the world now. ….Grief without hope is desolation, my therapist said to me one day, and I knew he was right. That I had to crawl out of where I was and somehow find a way to keep going.” ~ G.C.

Bumping along the path paved with words we collide with the limitations of our humanity as often as we soar with the  tenacity of our souls. With these same words jiggled, jumbled, and fumbled into a new order, we have the power to re-paint the scene with a revamped self-portrait  scotch-taped onto a hope-seasoned landscape until we, ourselves, believe it enough that our hastily mixed water and flour paste cements that new vision to the dawning of the day.

If you’ve been inspired, comforted, or validated by a book you’ve read recently,please tell us something about it in the comment thread below. Thank you