I recently finished the novel Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Alice Howland is a respected fifty-year-old Harvard professor of psychology who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Her memory loss throws her whole life and family into a tail-spin. One scene in particular, after her diagnosis, stood out for me.
Alice is a runner and she finishes a run outside an Episcopal church. Though raised a Roman Catholic, Alice has no active faith. Yet she feels an impulse to enter the church with some vague hope for help. Inside, she reads from a banner, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” She knows she has a great need for help, but “who is she to ask for help from a God she wasn’t sure she believed in?” She hopes someone, a priest or parishioner, will come so that she might unload her burden. No one comes.
The scene haunts me because I believe so strongly that God is our refuge and strength. There are no magic answers that will suddenly take Alice’s questions and fears away. But there is the loving, powerful presence of God that carries people in the midst of their struggles. I realize Still Alice is a novel, well written and thought-provoking. I just pray that when someone with such questions or doubts walks into Resurrection Lutheran Church, there is someone who can bear loving witness to God’s compassion and care.
In what ways does your reading current fiction shape your faith?