Friday, January 3, 2014

Mary a Novel by Sholem Asch

While staying at my parents house over Christmas I was able to sleep in the blue bedroom. This room isn't the usual room we stay in when we go to my childhood home. This room actually remains locked most of the time so I don't get to go into it very often. 

There are a few benefits to staying in this room. First, the glow in the dark sticker stars that my sister and I put up on the ceiling are still there and they still glow at night. It is like sleeping under the night sky. My kids wish to find stickers for their ceilings but I haven't put forth the effort to find them.  But the biggest benefit to staying in this room is the library of books that are housed in this room. My mom has 4 tall bookshelves full of books. The shelves are almost all double stacked. There are history and art books and some classic literature, but mainly there are religious books. I often just lay on the bed and read through all the titles. There are always new books or at least they seem new because either they get shuffled around or my mom adds on to her collection. In either case I always find something new to read. 

I guess because it was Christmas I was drawn to a book simply titled Mary. It was an older book but my mom had put it in a plastic library cover which she does for the really special hardback books she wants to preserve.  I think the fact that the author had a Jewish name also seemed interesting. What was a Jewish person doing writing about Mary? He knew the ins and outs of Jewish life and traditions.

So I started to read this novel about Mary. Actually the first part is about Joseph and his coming to Nazareth inorder to marry.  I was quickly captivated by the story and especially the insights into Jewish customs and history.  I loved that this is writen as a story, a novel, and not just facts. I really could see and feel what Mary and Jospeh were feeling within the context of the Jewish life, laws and customs. 

The author does a great job of creating personalities for Miriam (as Mary is called in the book) and Joseph that equally influence and yet allow Yeshua (Jesus) to become the man we read about in scripture. 
I have seen these characters from scripture in a more personal and real way and can more fully appreciate the rolls they played and how difficult it was for them and yet how blessed they felt. 
While at the temple in Jerusalem when Jesus is 12, Mary prays:
"I know not to what pass he shall be led, nor what road Thou hast paved for him. But I do see him, like a launched arrow, speedeing toward the target Thou didst set, and my heart trembles between joy and fear.  Father, I fear for him, for I see walls of fire in his path. He is too young, Father in Heaven; the thread of his life is too frail. For a little while yet, let him see the flowers, not the thorns. Leave him to me for a little while longer. And teach me what to do, Father in Heaven, for I am in awe of the power of his spirit and feel too weak to be his mother."

How hard it must have been to be His parent knowing, through the prophets words in scripture, what the future held for your child?  The desire to protect your son from what you knew would come would be hard to hold back. Letting things unfold as you watch would have been so difficult. 

This book was a great find! It has opened my eyes a bit to what life at that time period would have been like for the Jews but especially what amazing earthy parents Jesus was given. 

Evidently this is the third book in a series. I started at the end and now need to read the other two books. The Nazarene cronicles the life of the savior and The Apostle follows the life of Paul. Each of these will be very interesting. I didn't see them on the shelves in my Mom's locked library room. The lock isn't to keep the books from being read it is to keep a certain little sneeky thief emtpy the shelves of all these treasures. I will have to ask for the key the next time I am up to my parents so I can find Sholem Asch's other books. Maybe I will even get to sleep under the stars again. But then again..... having Doc and Marty (Back to the Future is my sister's favorite film and she turns it on first thing in the morning and she likes to watch her movies loud!) as your early morning wake up call isn't really high on my favorites. Perhaps the usual room at the other end of the house is a better choice for sleeping!

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