I’m learning more about my book the more I talk about it. In the past three weeks, I’ve spoken to three faith-based groups: at the First Presbyterian Church in Mankato, at Assisi Heights in Rochester, and at a meeting of the Minnesota River Conference pastors hosted in Otisco, Minn.
My talk in Otisco on Tuesday was preceded by a short worship service, to which I was cordially invited. Pastor Scott Williams of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church crafted a service that thematically related to my book. We read Psalm 116, from which comes “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints,” the epigraph to my book and the verse etched on the back of the Zimmerman gravestone in Calvary Cemetery. The gospel reading was John 14:1-14, “the way, the truth, and the life,” where Jesus talks about preparing a mansion with many rooms for all of us in heaven.
Then Pastor Williams’ delivered a message where he recounted his first introduction to death, and his resistance to family visits to cemeteries because to him, they were a place where his family cried each time.
In my presentation I talked about the book really coming out of a need to answer just one question: In the face of grief and tragedy, how do people go on? My book is filled with examples, both of people I didn’t know (such as Jim Zimmerman) and people I did know (my grandparents). I really didn’t realize that was the central question I was exploring all along in the writing process. The book may have been a bit different if that had been more obvious to me. I think the theme of faith–which is in there now–would have been stronger.