Louise Penny, a Canadian author of mystery novels set in the Canadian province of Quebec and centered on the work of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québe, is my current favorite author.
I was introduced to her work by a friend who recommended How the Light Gets In where I met the inspector, and citizens of the quaint town of Three Pines.
Penny’s characters are complex and Inspector Gamache is always looking for the fly in the honey pot. Methodically collecting clues, he adds them to his innate knowledge of human nature eventually solving the murder mystery at hand.
One of her characters is Ruth, a well know poet who dances on the edge of insanity. Ruth’s bosom companion, a duck named Rosa, came to Ruth as one of two eggs found on the edge of the nearby pond.
The mother duck had been killed and Ruth took the eggs home to help them hatch. When the two started to peck out of their shells, Rosa broke out on her own, but Ruth helped the other duckling emerge and in essence handicapped the newborn for life.
Watching how her good intentions actually led to the ducks early death, Ruth decided that helping others was vastly overrated and vowed she would not do so again.
Before the story ends Ruth does lend a hand to her friend and neighbor, but I was left thinking that good deeds don’t always bring the hoped for results.
Recently I met a young woman in her early thirties who is recovering from a stroke she suffered when she was twenty-nine. This beautiful mother of three is determined to regain the losses she suffered as a result of this significant trauma to her brain.
Because of her fierce determination, she is making the desired comeback, and last week I had the opportunity to work with her on a writing assignment that required her to set three short termed goals for herself and then write a paragraph about each.
She could verbalize her ideas, but writing them down was frustrating. Trying to be helpful I suggested she use her iPhone to pronounce the word she needed and see if Siri could spell it for her.
She replied, “Well, I tried that and it was easier, but it didn’t help me get any better. I have to think for myself. It takes longer but I remember more.”
Mother wrote in her journal, “In living our faith, we may find that rejection, disappointment or hard work has brought us to the point of despondency. But we are still needed. God has important work for us to do which will require the strength attained through the very trial we are working through.”
Often a difficult situation doesn’t require a helping hand but rather an encouraging word that will help us build our own strength and faith.