Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review of "The Suitcase"...

I have been meaning to review the children's book "The Suitcase" for way too long. Jane G, Meyer, the fabulous author, is super patient and kind. I kept meaning to get to it but in the end, I just really had a lot on my plate.

My favorite in-law, like favorite of favorites, was in the end stages with cancer. That should be enough, right? But it wasn't. It was Lent. Not only that but we had a major dust-up in the choir and lost a principle voice on old calendar Annunciation which was the Friday before Palm Sunday. I had to scrape together all the musical pieces and just figure it out at the last minute.

Then we got a text on Holy Saturday night. As my boys were in the church getting ready for the Paschal services and my little girls were sleeping in the van and my husband and two of our teens were hurriedly setting up the brown paper sack luminaries for the procession, we stopped and held our breaths. Ben's Uncle Jack had finally died on Holy Saturday Night while we walked through the dark lighting candles and preparing to announce that Christ had conquered death by death. He was gone. We were stunned for a minute but what could we do? The best thing to do what finish lighting all those candles and pray for Uncle Jack through the miles so that his wife and daughters might feel our love. We went into the church and more loudly than ever before we announced that Tropar.

And that, my friends, that is how we teach
our children about the Kingdom of God.

So in the end I am really glad that I waited to review it because in the end, it meant so much more. Every day we must prepare out children to go to the Kingdom and we do it in small ways. What we do doesn't have to be bold or great or strong. It only has to be done with love, real love, love that comes from the bones and sticks in your throat and isn't sappy or sweet but a little sharp. Don't get me wrong, this book is gentle, but it also honest. How do we get to the Kingdom of God?

According to the main character in the book, a special little boy named Thomas, the ways to get to God can be packed into a suitcase. It is applesauce for the hungry, a coat for a child who has none, alms for the poor, a mustard seed, and even some sticky tape to close out mouths for silence so that we can listen. The illustrations are gentle and soothing, with soft edges that allow the imagination to fill in the details. They are beautiful and refreshing and childlike with a sense of innocence which makes them perfect for the book.

My children have spent a few days thinking about this book and reading it to themselves and each other and I have read it with them. Then came Redonitza, the day in which the Church returns to the services of the Panakhida and we joyfully proclaim the Resurrection to our dead. We made more red eggs, a lot of red eggs since my husband's family has been here since the late nineteenth century, and we read this book before going to the cemetery. We went and prayed in the cemetery. We remembered them all and prayed at their graves and gave them each a bright red egg. We brought food for the dead to remind them that Christ died that death would not have the last word and that one day they will rise from these graves.

When we came home that night we talked about this book and what it means to do these small things for others. Applesauce for the hungry, a coat for a child who has none, alms for the poor, a mustard seed, silence, and red eggs on graves. We feed our dead as we feed our living, not merely on food and drink, but on love and hope. This is how to find the Kingdom of God.

In the end I stopped feeling badly for not getting to this book yet and started feeling grateful because it came at the perfect time. It came in a small brown cardboard package and it gave us a way to talk about what we do for the children of God and His Kingdom. By the way, I am speaking both metaphorically and practically, Jane has a great list of suggestions in the back of things to do with your children. Totally solid ones. You should totally check it out. You can buy it from Paraclete Press HERE or through all the regular channels of book acquisition.

So I am going to remember all the wonderful things about Uncle Jack, lists of things you won't understand, things like forks, ceiling tiles, koi fish, pumpkin pie, and marshmallow guns. I now can add to that list applesauce, coats, mustard seeds, and Scotch tape. Love is good. May his memory be eternal!

I was not paid for this review, I don't charge, what I got was a proof and a book and I am thrilled. If you want to remind you that you can read my other reviews HERE.