Friday, June 26, 2009

Daughter book

It seems like I've been posting a lot about my ubiquitous and dynamic little daughter lately. Two year olds are always entertaining, aren't they? I've also been reading a book that seemed to make me watch her with even more than the usual wonder.

"The Hummingbird's Daughter" by Luis Alberto Urrea is dense with faith, magic, tradition and color. (I sound like a back-of-the jacket reviewer ... but I really liked this book.) The book is an historical novel about Teresa or Teresita, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy rancher, the author's great-aunt and a powerful curandera who was seen as a saint by the people and a dangerous revolutionary by the government. The setting was really transporting for me, the characters were just about universally lovable, and the perspective of the protagonist on the supernatural was really enlightening. Not to mention the gorgeous Spanish-flavored writing, something I always enjoy (witness my affection for Isabel Allende).

Don't mistake me; the text is earthy, violent, sometimes disturbing. It might not be the best book for your Relief Society book club if your fellow readers there are very sensitive. But if they can take it, there is a lot of spiritual material to discuss. I have latched onto one little idea from Huila, Teresita's mentor: praying only for others, not for yourself. I'm trying it out. Amazing how much my prayers had turned to wish lists, and amazing how different I feel turning my heart to others instead.

And if you get discouraged while reading the book, hang on. The ending will knock your socks off. It's totally triumphant. That's all I'll say!


The Old Dad said...

I appreciate your comments on prayer, Ana. My approach has changed greatly in the last year. At some point, the long lists seemed not only selfish, but arrogant. My prayers were like an 8-year-old's letter to Santa...

I remembered one character in The Brothers Karamozov (I can't remember which one) who thought the only valid prayer was the Sinner's Prayer: "O Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." What more can anyone ask? I also reflected on the example of Jesus, when he prayed. He asked for:
1. God's kingdom to come
2. God's will to be done
3. Daily sustenance
4. Forgiveness
5. Deliverance from temptation and evil

It is a list, but different from the ones I recited night after night for years.



The Old Dad said...

One more thing: I remember one of my Sunday School teachere (Ausdrig Malouf -- James's mother) said that at least once a week, she focused her nightly prayer solely on giving thanks.


Braden said...

Interesting thoughts on prayer. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, too.

Ana, "dense with faith, magic, tradition and color" wow! That is a fantastic sentence. Very well written.

I am so with you on the need to be less selfish and more grateful in my prayers. And yet, aren't we also told to ask for whatever we stand in need of, like children who ask a loving father? Kind of a tricky balance.

Ana said...

Dad, thanks for your thoughts! Since I first read your comment I have been thinking about number 3 on the list - it is interesting to me that Christ asked for bread needed "this day," without worry for the future, and included not just himself but "us."

Yes, Braden, I think balance is the key word. I've been so off kilter for so long that for myself, it's good to spend some time on the other side of the see-saw. And one of my big requests is being granted this week with the finalization of our two adoptions, so it seems like an especially fitting time to take a break from the Santa Claus prayers.

There's a great line from Elvis Costello's song, "God's Comic," where God says, "Sometimes you confuse me with Santa Claus/It's the big, white beard, I suppose.")

Julia Harps said...

I ordered the book and plan to read it. I will let you know how I like it when I'm done.
P.S. I've been blog stalking you for awhile now. you are super cool mamma. I must say.
Julia (Hirt) Harps