“There were even moments in the meadow when something, perhaps the sweet berries themselves, insistently whispered to me: heaven exists. I found myself, kneeling beneath berry branch, wondering whether I truly believed that statement—could ever believe it to be true—and if so, what its implications in my life might be. What would it mean to say that, yes, I believe? Or to consider and embrace just as fervently the alternative?”
“Its crafted words are viscerally arresting…” “It feels like beauty…”
“Beautifully attuned to the rhythms of nature, the journeys of our lives, and the way memories can enrich our present…” These are just a few of the comments people have made online about Blueberry Fool: Memory, Moments, and Meaning. At the heart of this collection of engaging essays aimed at the intrinsically human intersection of memory and belief is the question, “Is it possible to find the revelatory, to find faith in a tiny blue berry?” Threaded throughout with an ever-changing cast of meadowland characters, not the least of which is a rambling barren of wild blueberries, these writings offer an intimate chronicle of one man’s quest to understand what it means to believe. Again and again the author’s words bring the reader from a particular geographical place to a location at once familiar and foreign, universal and unique: the landscape of memory. Whether grappling with the implications of adoption, or grieving over a lost family recipe; recalling a surprise encounter with an equally surprised red fox, or reconsidering the meaning of migration, Blueberry Fool is about the sheer fragility and strength of belief, about the idiosyncratic light of memory, and about the simple year-round pleasures of a wild meadow.
Thom Rock has crafted an enchanting meditation on some of life’s urgent questions: What is memory, really? How does belief work in a world full of inevitable loss? When we seek meaning, do we need to look further than a patch of wild blueberries in summer? The language is vivid and beautifully cadenced, the stories tenderly told. Blueberry Fool consoles the distracted mind and opens it to a wondrous natural world, where asking is enough. —Carolyn M. Bardos, author of Yesterday’s Daybreak
The wild blueberry, sometimes called starberry, is Thom Rock’s North Star, which he follows into a deep exploration of faith, family, and identity. Rock’s essays shine with the incandescence of the celestial berries themselves. If you’ve ever tasted the tart sweetness of summer or felt the bittersweet memory of loved ones you’ve lost, you’ll sense kindred spirit in these gentle, powerful meditations. —Kristen Laine, author of American Band
Just as Augustine saw memory not as simply recovering past facts, but as leading toward the deepest insights, so Rock teases language to recapture the inchoate tastes and sounds of lived life. Berries and birds, fireflies and hummingbirds flicker through these pages, enticing the reader to mine the depths of the past experiences that make us who we are, of hopes adumbrated in memory and inscribed in a faith that abides in the unstable stability of questioning what those experiences mean. Rock’s meditations, grounded as they are in backyard paths through blueberry fields, remind one of the evocations of nature in Matsuo Basho’s haiku poetry, or the ecological visions of Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. These words are to be savored–like Rock’s preserved berries and pickled cucumbers in midwinter. Read his meditations slowly, attentive to the flavor of words that call forth the memories from which we have constructed our sense of who we are and how we embrace faith–not as adhered belief but as the embodiment and reflection of our own lived experiences. If someday we get to hang out with sympathetic souls in heaven, I believe that Thom Rock will likely find himself in the company of Augustine, Basho, and Leopold. –John P. Keenan, author of The Meaning of Christ: A Mahayana Theology , and Grounding Our Faith in a Pluralist World
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