Take a few special phone calls, blend them with a handful of emails, season with a random quote or a delicious idea and you have the antidote for the groundhog experience. Voila! Everything takes a turn and looks more inviting. There is hope for each and every grumpy groundhog! The novel I just finished reading was a turning point, a catalyst for moving my groundhog back into life. The narrator is a father in his 60’s writing to his only child, a 7 year old boy born years past the time when the father ever expected he would have a child. The father is a minister and the son and grandson of ministers. He is dying. He writes all the things that he expected to be saying to his son as they grew older together. Marilynne Robinson is the author of “Gilead”, a book filled with memorable quotes. This paragraph, toward the end of the story touched me deeply and changed my thinking about hibernating.
“Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave – that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm. And therefore, this courage allows us, as the old men said, to make ourselves useful. It allows us to be generous, which is another way of saying exactly the same thing. But that is the pulpit speaking. What have I to leave you but the ruins of old courage, and the love of old gallantry and hope? Well, as I have said, it is all an ember now. And the good Lord will surely someday breathe it into flame again. . . . . . I will pray that you find a way to be useful. I will pray. And then I will sleep.”