By Rachel Joyce
A friend of a friend liked this book so much that she sent five of her friends a copy. My friend recommended this to me (thanks Dorothy). I don’t know if I was as moved to send my friends a copy.
Harold receives a letter from a friend of his who is dying. He has not heard from her for years. He writes a short letter and tells his wife he is going to walk to the postoffice to make the afternoon mail. As he goes, he begins to think about what he has written. Then he passes one mailbox after another, finally ending up at a gas station where he has a pivotal conversation with the cashier. He then decides to re-write his letter and walk to go and see this friend, telling her to hang on until he gets there. Thus begins a very unusual journey across England for Harold, his wife, various characters and Queenie, the dying friend.
Although I do recommend this book, it does have some very sad moments despite Joyce’s overall message of hope. Cancer, suicide, addiction, marital problems, child abuse/neglect, grief, guilt and justice are just some of the issues that are dealt with. Sometimes Harold is a very frustrating character. He handles other people differently than I would. Yet, he also brings hope, healing and some humor to the lives of others. His ability to just listen is probably his strongest trait.
What did this book have to do with my faith? I loved this quote from page 156: Beginnings could happen more than once, or in different ways. You could think you were starting something afresh when actually what you were doing was carrying on as before. He had faced his shortcomings and overcome them, and so the real business of walking was happening now. Do you believe we can all have a new beginning? How about more than one? I have come to believe that in our Christian journey we begin again many times as we deepen our lives of faith. My faith does not look the same as when I first said yes to Jesus. I know that my faith will look much different in ten or twenty years from now. Harold’s story shows that a person can begin again, no matter how late in life it is.
I recommend The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (but don’t expect me to send you a copy any time soon).