The Scent of Water: Book Review

Perhaps there is a right time to read a book. I started The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge some years ago, but I didn’t finish it. This time as I read the book I was thoroughly enjoying the writing. I lingered over the descriptions of setting, and the interesting choice of words, the unique phrases. I looked up some words in the dictionary.

The story follows the main character’s move to a village town in England. Mary, like the author, is single and has inherited a cottage from a cousin. She meets the endearing members of the village, each with their human quirks and flaws.  

Throughout the book there are glimpses into a diary of a woman who suffered from mental illness. Mental illness is portrayed with insight and compassion by this author.

There are children in the story also. They are portrayed in a lovely, understanding way. 

I would guess that Elizabeth Goudge understood and delighted in children. I enjoyed the special collection of “little things” that captures the imagination of the children.

The Scent of Water is a gentle story about people with flaws, the pursuit of faith, health and relationship. You have to read the book to catch the significance of the title.

A website about Elizabeth Goudge (1900 – 1984) provides a brief biography. 

This post is part of #Write28Days. To view all the posts in the series click here.

Sharing this post with Literary Musing Monday and Booknificent Thursday.

Imperfect Families

The Bible has stories about families. Our pastor reminded us that some of the stories show the dysfunction in families (Genesis 27 and 28).

In the account of Esau and Jacob, the lies that were told when Jacob received the blessing of his father Isaac demonstrated the divide between family members. Jacob deceived his father at the encouragement and planning of his mother. He had to flee from Esau.

Yet God met Jacob along the way to Paddan Aram. Jacob recognized God’s message that came to him in a dream, and he made a vow, seeking to follow God.

Bible

God is merciful to us when we pay attention to his call on our life and seek him.

As a young adult I had arguments with my parents and didn’t always treat them respectfully. We had dysfunction in our family. When my older brother developed schizophrenia, we didn’t know how to respond his behavior.

I (oldest daughter and graduate nurse) was relied on to help my father. My mother withdrew, and I was burdened and distressed. Although everyone in the family desperately wanted to “fix” Glenn’s illness, we had lapses in kindness and communication.

My brother’s illness was a downward spiral. It is a long and complicated story–too much to address here. It crushed my parents, my siblings and me. During his long battle with schizophrenia my brother became bitter. Each of us, in our own way, wanted something or someone to blame.

I have come to realize my own imperfections and sins. I can now see the limitations and imperfections of my parents with forgiveness.

God doesn’t always heal illness. Later, with my son’s illness I learned that God walks with us through suffering. He can heal our emotional and spiritual wounds.

God has been faithful. He has forgiven my sins and given me guidance through his word, through prayer and through the church. God, through Jesus, desires to heal the wounds we receive in a fallen world. He is ready to meet us where we are.

I wrote a chapter in the book, Illness, Resilience and Spirituality. It is an anthology and my chapter is titled “Prayers through Illness and Loss”. It is a record of my prayers and God’s answers. I learned so much about God.

At every stage of my life I have looked for a church, for a family of faith. The church is composed of sinners that need grace, and sometimes the church falters. But we can’t give up. In addition to the Word of God and prayer, Christians need a community of believers to thrive. 

Jesus said (recorded in Matthew 18:20), “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”

Mental Illness Affects the Whole Family

Yesterday I began the task of going through my brother’s papers. After years in psychiatric hospitals and then group homes he passed away last June. I was his guardian.

When I saw the prompt for Five Minute Friday, I was already there emotionally. Sadness and REGRET.

When my Dad could no longer handle his  finances,  I  became  his  rep payee. I have years of bank records and medical records. I am discarding many of the papers, but keeping those that tell his life story.

My brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young adult. His illness shattered our family. Each of us was traumatized by the events that took place.

Over the years my sisters and I had our turn as advocate for our brother. We visited him in the hospital and arranged outings.

Among the papers that I accumulated, are papers that my parents saved. I found my brother’s birth certificate. And I found copies of letters that my father wrote seeking better care for him. Letters looking for answers. Letters from hospital administrators, doctors and a senator. A letter from another parent of a mentally ill son.

My brother’s life was tragic. I do wish that I had understood better the heartache that my parents carried for so many years.//

Now I have to trust God’s word.

And I heard a voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4