This lovely piece of literary fiction skews more to the chick-lit side, because I don’t see too many guys being entranced by the thoughts and doings of a 45 year old female minister in England and a 68-year-old bicycle repair dude in the tiny town of her ecumenical charge.
Jabez is a quiet man whose wife of 40-some years died a few years ago. He is lonely and still mourning. A delightfully eccentric woman calling herself Seer Ember, spry and feisty in her eighties has moved herself in with him, and they look out for each other. He is shy and very spiritually philosophical, and she is just basically a hoot.
Esme has a failed marriage under her belt. It went south when she got serious about being a minister. The husband was less than thrilled by the idea. She is overweight and over-busy, and someone suggests that using a bicycle might help with both issues, being exercise and slowing life down just a bit. He suggests that Jabez might have a bicycle to sell or could recommend a good place to buy one. So off Esme goes to buy a bike.
This is a story about loneliness, but really the story of how one can be quite contented in one’s life and still be lonely. Lonely doesn’t necessarily mean unhappy or discontented. It means lacking something. It is a story about insight, and how insight so seldom comes in flashes of blinding light but more commonly sneaks up on a person on little cat feet, and how it is up to each of us to recognize that little gift and do with it what we may.
It is also the story about what might be in one set of circumstances a mismatch, in a different set of circumstances, a true match. When an individual is ready, the suitable person seems like fate. So maybe fate or destiny isn’t about events, but is about availability. Maybe it is about possibility and openness.
Love wears many faces, as does compassion.