Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Special Gift

Set in St. Alcuin's Monastery in the 1300's, The Hawk and The Dove Trilogy is a perceptive portrayal of human relationships. The abbot, Father Peregrine, and his aide, Brother Thomas, are the main characters, but the monastery is peopled with other unforgettable characters whose trials in living the prescribed life of a Benedictine monastery are beautifully portrayed.

The three volumes trace the history of Father Peregrine from his taking on the role of abbot until his death in the third book. The first book introduces us to him. Peregrine was the son of a nobleman who felt a call to God. A graceful, talented man, he is beaten severely and become a cripple. Instead of making him bitter, it opens him to the suffering of others, and as abbot his understanding of the trials of the brothers engenders a love the continues throughout his life.

I found the third book, The Long Fall, particularly poignant. Dealing with infirmity and impending death is never easy. Both Brother Tom and Father Peregrine face the ultimate dissolution of their earthly friendship. It both serves as a model for how to deal with impending bereavement and, since the brothers are not perfect, allows us to feel less guilty for the way we approach the end of life with our loved ones.

I highly recommend this book. It's not a book for just Catholics, or even Christians. The author has a sensitivity that allows her to portray the delights and sorrows of human love in a way that leaves one feeling better and with more understanding of people and relationships. It is a beautifully written, warm, and perceptive book, one you won't be able to read just once.