Yesterday I quoted a book called The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander, which has been Advent reading for me for some years now. So I thought it appropriate to post this review Tess put up a couple years back. Enjoy!
This book was Ent water to me: it was good, and clear, and pure, bringing healthy growth and fresh strength. Like Ent water, The Reed of God is potent – a little goes a long way. This little book of 187 short pages lasted for two months of daily reading and rereading (my partner here at TFG told me she rereads it every year... I know it will be on my frequently visited list as well.)
I received more than one healing from Caryll Houselander’s wisdom; if the cause for her canonization has been opened, I’ll be letting the investigator’s know. Surely spiritual and emotional healings are proof of celestial intervention? Of particular blessing is my new perception of, relationship with, and respect for Our Lady.
There used to be a stout wall between me and her, constructed of my inability to appreciate her humility and generosity. The Mary I thought I knew was cool and aloof and far too perfect to be appealing.
Caryll Houselander, with all the gentleness, acceptance, and humility she reveals in Mary, took me by the hand and ushered me into the Madonna’s presence. She taught me to see the generosity of Mary in action and in spirit, and was able to show me how to imitate it... more importantly, she inspired me to desire to imitate Our Lady – quite a thing in someone who avoided anything resembling Marian devotion
The theme of the book is emptiness. Specifically how our emptiness is perfectly and uniquely shaped in each of us to contain God. (Another healing I received from this book was to not fear the emptiness I’m so aware of inside me.)
Houselander also explains beautifully what it means that Christ is in us and works through us, which helped me better understand the phrases we often hear as Catholics: “Offer it up” “Die to self” and the concept that everything we do – changing diapers, shuffling papers, plucking chickens can be for Christ.
The Reed of God not only teaches, but is also a guide to meditation. It leads the reader to Jesus through Mary; that while
“each saint has his special work: one person’s work. But Our Lady had to include in her vocation, in her life’s work, the essential thing that was to be hidden in every other vocation in every life.
She is not only human; she is humanity.
The one thing that she did and does is the one thing that we all have to do, namely to bear Christ into the world.”
The author shows us how Mary’s example of emptiness and hiddenness reveals our own purpose.
While reading the book, I wrote notes on key passages, aha moments, and eye-opening insights to include in my review. Let me instead encourage you to read it for yourself with a notebook nearby to record your own journey through the book. I suspect The Reed of God offers something unique to each person who reads it. It, too, conforms to the emptiness in each of us, fitting each one perfectly.