I have just now read Homeby Marilynne Robinson, swallowed in a single sitting, impossible to do otherwise. My eyes burn, my throat is dry and raw from setting down the book now and again so I could pace the room for a moment, moaning and wailing, blow my nose, and then pick it up again, not stopping with this procedure until it was done.
I have an image of myself, alone in a cold and spare room, hands held high and open to heaven, waiting for some answer, some revelation, some strength to understand my place. And this room repeats again and again throughout my life as if time itself were made of a succession of this same pose in an uninterrupted track of rooms where I stand alone, arms reaching for what I cannot know or understand, what I have lost and feel unable to retrieve, for my inability to reach what I most need, and the knowing that I will never touch it again, and will in time, stop reaching for such an elusive prize. Mixed in the jumble where I say to myself that nothing is ever lost, it’s just not where I can ever see or touch again, a feeling, a knowing that the world goes on without me, exists regardless of how I try to be part of it or refuse to take my place at the table. This is what I felt so strongly while reading this astounding book, a communion with the spaciousness of time and place and the smallness of a person sliced so thinly within that continuum. What we are allowed to see within the narrow requirement to follow the physical laws of time and place, what we don’t allow ourselves to see because of our fear or arrogance or timidity or ignorance.
Like a human, I have committed a mortal sin and I don’t know what it is, so there is no possibility of forgiveness or repair. That is the condition of living within these rules. That is the reason I rebel and fight these rules. That is why I am best left alone to ponder these questions. That is what I hear like an echo in this book where home is the setting of life’s drama and potential and the novel’s characters drop truths like stones into a bottomless void, while concealing both facts and feelings, as if this were the only way to go on breathing in time and space.