Once there, Mack encounters an unlikely and diverse trio who represent the Holy Trinity. Alongside them, Mack works on uncovering answers to his questions about where God was when he and his loved ones needed him, and why there is so much pain and suffering. I think the shack itself is a metaphor for the heavy and palpable pain and feelings of inadequacy that Mack, and, if I'm honest, myself, have felt during our lives. Actually, he attached himself to his pain. It was how he knew he was alive in many ways--by feeling the pain. The lessons he learns are transformative. My favorite notion is that there are no real do's and don'ts. No right and no wrong. No good, no evil. Just lots of food for thought.
While the book is Christian in its literal reading, I think the metaphor/lesson crosses all understandings and doctrines. As a matter of fact, in The Shack, I found a great deal of the core Buddhist tenet that suffering is inevitable. Suffering is born of attachments to objects that are transient, and the loss of such objects is both inevitable and painful. I think it is far more about spirit and being gentle than about any set religion.
While this is a very cursory and subjective take on the book, I would love to hear what others have thought about it. Faith is a great healer, and while I often thought of that movie Oh, God! with John Denver and George Burns while I read some of this, the overwhelming message for me is that a loving relationship with others and kindnesses to all is a transformative, healing power.
Yesterday morning, I found out that half of a neighborhood shopping area was destroyed by fire overnight. One of the stores was my dry cleaner and another, a favorite wine shop. I know.
My first impulse was to mentally list all the clothes I had at the dry cleaners, and then I added up how much they were worth. Then I promptly forgot my stuff. At least five businesses have been physically destroyed. These businesses have employees who are working their butts off, like everybody else, to eek out a living. Like Mack, I wondered why. Why did this happen to these people? What comes of all this is the only answer we have.
After this, I attended a Mother/Daughter Service at The Bird's school. This is an annual tradition, and each year during the Liturgy, a Senior and her mother each give a reflection on their past and what lies ahead. Some years, I have to breathe into a paper bag to regain my composure, but yesterday was different. I feel hopeful. While I am facing the necessary loss of my beautiful babies leaving the nest, I am doing my best to embrace it as anything but a loss. They are gaining a new life, a new step on their paths, and I do revel in the possibilities for them.
In the meantime, I will continue to work in my garden/soul as Mack does, and live in the possibility. A garden is, after all, a continual work in progress.