Thursday, February 25, 2010

Italy, India and Indonesia

The settings for the book Eat, Pray, Love are Italy, India and Indonesia. Sequentially, each verb goes with its corresponding country. The author is Elizabeth Gilbert. The book was birth out of the pain of her human heart and circumstances coupled with a journey through these three countries.
I picked up the book on a recommendation from a Franciscan Monk. He described the book as beautiful. Not only is the book beautiful, but it is also engaging as one woman from the depths of her pain seeks to find God in her time of need.
This is not a book for Christians who are unwilling to read anything that does not line up with a biblical worldview. To me this is one of the saddest things happening in the Church today. In my opinion, if you can't find the hand of God, the voice of God and the truth of God in many places, including this book, then I would conclude that your God is not the God of the Universe, the Creator, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Who are we, mere creatures to limit God? What about discernment I can hear some of my readers saying? Exactly, if you believe that you have discernment, you can read almost anything and glean truth and beauty from those things. I guess I am a bit of a literalist when it comes to believing that God created man(kind) in His image and God being the Author of life.
"God does not live in a dogmatic scripture or in a distant throne in the sky, but instead abides very close to us indeed - much closer than we can imagine, breathing right through our own hearts. I respond with gratitude to anyone who has ever voyaged to the center of that heart, and who has then returned to the world with a report for the rest of us that God is an experience of supreme love."
In this same chapter at the beginning of the book, Liz gives a disclaimer about her experience and the way she views God "just so people can decide right away how offended they need to get." The lady has people's numbers. Some just look for a way to discard all who don't line up with their own theology. Believe me my theology matters to me, but I continue to learn more and more each day that my theology is to never be used as a weapon or does it give me a right to discard people. The ones we fight against in order to be theologically correct may be the very people who could help us in our time of need. My children more than anyone continue to remind me that people matter. Jesus was asked point blank about what is most important. From Matthew's gospel

which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'b]" style="line-height: 0.5em; ">[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment.39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'c]" style="line-height: 0.5em; ">[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Now when the other teacher of the Law asked about who is our neighbor, Jesus used the story of the good Samaritan to illustrate the answer. Jews at that time hated Samaritans. Ouch. This showed that the Samaritan knew how to show mercy. So, why wouldn't God use someone like Elizabeth Gilbert to show us truths and beauties that definitely reveal God's handiwork? I say, of course, God can use whoever He wants that is why He is God.

The book is divided into three sections, one for each stop in the pilgrimage. The whole feel and description that Liz gives in her time in Italy made me want to pack the book in a suitcase and book a flight to Italy. I could finish it on the plane or not. Italian, the language is what drew her, but the fresh wounds from her life draw her close to God. When Depression and Loneliness visit her in Rome she is comforted by the God who loves her, is very near and will never leave her. (sounds familiar to me)

An adventure is flavored by the characters we meet and the relationships we develop. The Italians and other foreigners move the story a long and are a delicious meal in and of themselves.

India brought Liz into contact with what I would call the discipline of being still and knowing that we are not God. There is something to be said for going to a foreign place in order to get to a place inside yourself so that one can receive healing. I love how in this part of the book, Liz had all these plans for seeing India and instead, she gets to see herself and God adjusts her itinerary. She stays put for the four months more or less. In the quiet meditation Liz knows that He is God.

Liz's trip to Bali is driven by an invitation to return from an old medicine man she had met on her last trip there. The saga of this last third of the trip and the book is so endearing. There are children, old people, and every age in between who Liz is open to welcoming into her world and her heart even if it is for a very short time.
Today, I will finish reading the book and I don't want it to end. It has been like going on a trip with my new friend Liz and it is coming to an end. It is time to go home.


Hayley said...

Ah! I've been wanting to read this book! Perhaps now I will.

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