Saturday, March 23, 2013

"Lotus Buds" book review

I reviewed Amy Carmichael's Things As They Are not too long ago. Lotus Buds is another of hers that I hadn't read, although much of it seems very familiar to me. I think some of the biographical material about Amy Carmichael in other books (like A Chance to Die: my favorite!) is taken from here. She says right at the beginning that this "book has been written for lovers of children." I am, and I'm loving the little written sketches of the "babies." The pictures and stories of how they got those photographs are fun, too. I haven't finished reading yet, though, and it's going rather slowly for me. However, this is a book that I can pick up and read a bit with pleasure, then put it down for a while and not lose where I was in it. The chapters are short and give me something to think about and to love in each one.

The writing is beautiful and poetic. I wish I could tell about my own children like this, with such detail, charm and insight. I think I'll just give you the first short chapter, as a sample of what it's like:
NEAR an ancient temple in Southern India is a large calm, beautiful pool, enclosed by stone walls, broken here and there by wide spaces fitted with steps leading down to the water's edge; and almost within reach of the hand of one standing on the lowest step are pink Lotus lilies floating serenely on the quiet water or standing up from it in a certain proud loveliness all their own.

We were travelling to the neighbouring town when we came upon this pool. We could not pass it with only a glance, so we stopped our bullock-carts and unpacked ourselves—we were four or five to a cart—and we climbed down the broken, time-worn steps and gazed and gazed till the beauty entered into us.

Who can describe that harmony of colour, a Lotus-pool in blossom in clear shining after rain! The grey old walls, the brown water, the dark green of the Lotus leaves, the delicate pink of the flowers; overhead, infinite crystalline blue; and beyond the old walls, palms.

With us was a young Indian friend. "I will gather some of the lilies for you," he said, with the quick Indian desire to give pleasure; but some one interposed: "They must not be gathered by us. The pool belongs to the Temple."

It was as if a stone had been flung straight at a mirror. There was a sense of crash and the shattering of some bright image. The Lotus-pool was a Temple pool; its flowers are Temple flowers. The little buds that float and open on the water, lifting young innocent faces up to the light as it smiles down upon them and fills them through with almost a tremor of joyousness, these Lotus buds are sacred things—sacred to whom?

For a single moment that thought had its way, but only for a moment. It flashed and was gone, for the thought was a false thought: it could not stand against this—"All souls are Mine."

All souls are His, all flowers. An alien power has possessed them, counted them his for so many generations, that we have almost acquiesced in the shameful confiscation. But neither souls nor flowers are his who did not make them. They were never truly his. They belong to the Lord of all the earth, the Creator, the Redeemer. The little Lotus buds are His—His and not another's. The children of the temples of South India are His—His and not another's.

So now we go forth with the Owner Himself to claim His own possession. There is hope in the thought, and confidence and the purest inspiration. And, stirred to the very depths, as we are and must be many a time when we see the tender Lotus buds gathered by a hand that has no right to them, and crushed underfoot; bewildered and sore troubled, as the heart cannot help being sometimes, when the mystery of the apparent victory of evil over good is overwhelming: even so there will be always a hush, a rest, a repose of spirit, as we stand by the Lotus-pools of life and seek in His Name to gather His flowers.
That last little bit, the part that I bolded, is what really stood out to me. Yes. I might have to print it out and post it somewhere that I'll see it often. "When the mystery of the apparent victory of evil over good is overwhelming: even so there will be always a hush, a rest, a repose of spirit...."

And from that opening, the book goes on to chat about the little "lotus buds" that God allowed them to gather.

Have you read Lotus Buds? What is your favorite missionary book or author? What are you reading now, and what would you recommend to the rest of us now?

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