Although the page counter for my blog indicates otherwise, it would seem that only you two have read my comments regarding Go Set a Watchman. And you may not know each other, but both of you have an interest in all things Harper Lee as do I. So as Joan Rivers was fond of saying, “Let’s talk.”
Neither of you will be surprised to know that I’m making this public or that I dare borrow scripture for the title. After all, aren’t we about to discuss a novel with a similar genesis?
My first disclaimer is that I haven’t read a single review by anyone who has read the book except that of Nancy Anderson. Anderson, retired professor of English, is a scholar of the work of Harper Lee and other southern writers who asserted long ago that Lee had written more. Know, Wade and Charles, that I was intentional about this so that I wouldn’t allow the opinion of others to color mine. I’m addressing, not you specifically here, but offering my opinions about those dubious, questioni…
In the south I know, everybody has a say. You talk. I listen. I talk. You listen. And so on until all are heard. Never mind that we don’t agree. Or that what we have to say is just another version of what has already been said. We still listen. Now I’d like my say.
The staggering news of Harper Lee’s second book was hinted about by a scholar as early as the 1980s at a meeting of the Prattville Creative Writers. The content was not mentioned, although the certainty of its existence bespoke the confidence of one who could only have laid eyes on it. And, certainly nothing more about the manuscript was divulged, because if you were a confidante of Harper Lee’s and wanted to remain so, you respected her privacy. No questions asked. The recent announcement of the public debut date of Go Set a Watchman has unhinged every tongue of anybody who has ever read a book of any kind. This chatter about Watchman may come to rival our lifetime of ruminations on THE second coming.
When Associate Pastor Emily Freeman Penfield was leaving Highlands United Methodist Church for her new post as Pastor of Church of the Reconciler, she presented the congregation with a gift--a small booklet of her prayers, Praying Through the Year. I interviewed Emily last week for my article about her and her work, "All in a Day's Work," posted now at www.weldbham.com. Her comments to me during that interview about what she always prays for on Mother's Day reminded me of this very poetic and sensitive prayer she had used at HUMC:
May 11, 2008 Mother's Day
Gracious God who dances in our lives and hearts as Holy Spirit--you are always present, always abundant and always calling us to yourself. Awaken us this hour to what can be--encourage us in the vision you have created for Highlands. We long to be faithful, even in our disobedience. We long to be pleasing, even in our shallow and selfish moments. We long to give back to you, even in our desert and dry seasons. Rain …