I finished another book by Orson Scott Card today. This one was the second in the "Women of Genesis" series and was on "Rebekah," wife of Isaac. Isaac was the son of Abraham and Sarah who was the heir to the birthright of the covenant with God. I've not read the whole Bible, only parts of it, and I don't know all the stories and characters. The "Women of Genesis" series of books are novels, but they are based on the Biblical accounts, and I find them exceptionally interesting.
What I love about Orson Scott Card's writing is his ability to really know and understand his characters...the dark and light of them, the good and bad of them, the weak and strong of them. The characters in the Bible stories are iconic, and people have been reading about them and hearing their stories for millennia, but in these books their stories come alive in a new way. These are not religious books, they are just interesting stories about interesting people.
The characters are written so that you understand how human these people were, and yet you also understand the depth of their faith and their struggles to hear and interpret the messages from God they received. A major theme of this particular book in the series is how people with good intentions, doing the best they can, often make tragic mistakes.
But, that's the nature of Life. I really believe we all do the best we can, and that if we could do better, we would. Even people who do really heinous things. I know that some people pre-meditate and plan to do heinous things, but I still believe that if they could have done better, they would have. Which just shows that sometimes our idea of what our best is can get pretty twisted.
At the end of the book, Rebekah looks back and has come to a place where she understands the mis-steps that were made and why. She comes to a place of understanding and compassion for everyone. And, this is Orson Scott Card's gift to the reader through his love of his characters; that you have an understanding and compassion for them because of the way he writes them. He loves and accepts them on all levels and writes them that way. And, as you read and accept these characters, flaws and all, you start to understand yourself better and love yourself more.
We all do the best we can, and sometimes that brings tragic results. And, all we can do, is keep working through those tragic results; keep trying to do better; keep trying to be more loving, more understanding, more compassionate, more balanced, more truthful, more connected. When we've created a mess, all we can do is try to clean it up the best way we know how. We can apologize, we can forgive, we can do our best to make things right; but, sometimes, we do things that we can't come back from, that we can't fix or make right in the way we wish we could. But, in those instances, we can still learn from our mistakes so that we don't make them again.
Good books don't just entertain, they open us to new realities and possibilities, new ideas and concepts, new ways of being in the world; they expand our perceptions and change us in the reading of them. They deepen our understanding and broaden our compassion and help us to know ourselves and the human condition better. I hope you all have a really good book to read.