Night came on to Platte, SD, as those of us in the back of the library, sipping coffee and savoring the novel Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, shared our views and compared versions of our reading. We talked about grace, and forgiveness, and the parable of the prodigal son. We considered the implications of predestination, or the lack of it, and how the characters in the story seek each others' aid and their understanding.
On the drive down to Platte I considered the discussion to come and therefore called my brother to wish him well as he considers returning to school at 48.
After the talk we shared some delicious peach kuchen and apple tart and I learned that one participant's daughter had been my student a few years ago, one whose essay about her drill sargeant has stayed with me. And on the way home I listened for the first time to Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, playing "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" over again as I neared home, the spattered remains of insects decorating my windshield.
I'm left with the kindness of those who stopped on their way out of the discussion to thank me for coming, one elderly woman's graceful gesture lingering all the way home.