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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

cover of Gathering Blue

A companion book for The Giver, I believe. Another image of what could be in the future, depending on how the world goes. Kira lives in a community full of hardship and harshness. She is born with a defect -- a twisted leg -- that should have warranted her being left in the Field to die long ago. But she is alive thanks to the courage of her mother to stand up to the elders. When her mother dies, it is likely she will be forced to leave and taken to the Field, but the elders decide otherwise. She is given the special task of fixing the Singer's robe, which is embroidered with all the stories of the past to help the Singer remember the past when he tells the story once a year. As she lives in the Council Edifice (with another artist given the task of fixing the singer's staff), she discovers glimpses of truth which make her uncomfortable.

Numbers are often important in literature, and there are some fun numbers in this book. The ruling body of the community, called the Council of Guardians, is composed of 12 men. They have 1 Singer that is the only one who knows the history of their people. And there are 3 young children who are chosen for their skills to tell the future of the community (or were they created for that purpose with specific creative skills?) These are all Biblical numbers, which strikes me as interesting. As a Christ follower, I have eyes to see God and His work all around, but it seems wonderfully easy in Lowry's books (at least the ones I've read recently).

The community is kept in fear of going outside their close boundaries because of the beasts. Kira is told by an old woman (4 syllables! each earned with many years) that there are no beasts. She begins to wonder and ask questions of those around her -- if they have ever seen a beast, and only one person says yes. These beasts keep all the people living in fear. But what if the beasts didn't exist? What if the Council of Guardians made sure that rumor was kept alive to exercise power? Where are the places that we live in fear of things that don't exist? As humans, often we live in fear of what others will think, but that is unnecessary. It is scary to walk into that territory and trust the beasts won't kill you, but there can be deep freedom in it too.

A young boy named Matt, with his faithful dog Branch, goes on a journey to find blue so Kira can have it to add to her weaving colors (it is the hardest one to make and she doesn't have the right plant). On this journey he comes to a village similar to their own -- except that many of the people are broken. In their own village, if someone were to break their arm and it wouldn't set, they would be taken to the Field to die. Here those people are accepted, loved, safe -- it is foreign to Matt. In this 'broken' village, there is a place for everyone. That is what God is like -- He invites those who are broken and wounded to join His family. Not just to be cared for, but also to care for others. God takes what others see as ugly and finds great beauty. This is a beautiful picture of what the Kingdom of Heaven should be like.

The three children who are 'taken from' their parents are all separated because they are creative, what one might call artists. When they are working in their particular craft, designs and ideas just come to them without needing to be taught. Because of this, they have the ability to help foretell the future of their community. What power! And yet, I wonder -- do artists in our own towns and cities and countries how the power to help change the course of the future? Creativity is a piece of God that humans get to represent in some amazing ways. We all have power for good and for evil, and God longs for us to use the gifts we are given for His glory and to bring light and grace to those around us.

Title:Gathering Blue
Author: Lois Lowry
Date published:2000
Genre: Young Adult
Number of pages:215
Notes: repeat reading


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