Sunday, October 23, 2016

Review: A Day and a Life

A Day and a Life
By Penelope Wilcock
The Hawk and the Dove #9
Lion Hudson, 2016


The monastic rhythm of life at St. Alcuins means that all is peaceful on the surface, but beneath there are strong currents as each monk contends with his own hopes, fears, challenges, and temptations.

Not every monk is settled and secure. Sadness permeates the monastery when it is discovered early one morning that one of the novices, Brother Cedd, has disappeared.

It quickly becomes clear that disturbance in the life of one can impact many. As the day goes on, the question looms: will Brother Cedd return? And what will be the consequences if he doesn't?

In this moving conclusion to The Hawk and the Dove series, Pen Wilcock describes a single day in the life of the community weaving a deeply touching, frank, and witty tapestry of monastic life.

My thoughts

How fitting that the nine-volume Hawk & the Dove series, spanning many years of life in a 15th-century Yorkshire monastery, should end with a novel detailing one day’s activity, a day that begins with the disappearance of Brother Cedd. These stories by Penelope Wilcock are like nothing I’ve read before, beautifully written and touching in their simplicity – and, contrary to what one might expect, extremely relevant for us today.

A Day and a Life helped me understand the monastic life, for all that is promised at St. Alcuin’s is Christ and the community. “He must own nothing, demand nothing, set aside his personal preferences, be content with what he is given.” That speaks to me as I reflect on how God owns everything and all that I’ve been given is to be held loosely, used to benefit others.

A Day and a Life is about community and how the struggles of one affect all. It gently explores what it truly means to bear one another’s burdens. Brother Cedd’s feelings of inadequacy and doubts about his calling become my own insecurities and questioning. Community is “human frailty in all its ordinariness stitched together with love.”

Most of all, A Day and a Life points me to Christ with its message that life is more than about self or even community. William advises Brother Cedd: “The point of any life is to encounter Jesus Christ, to walk with him as a friend, to open your heart up for him to dwell in.”

I love the way this gently-paced, poignant series reminds me over and over of how faith can be applied in daily life, always pointing to Jesus, the Lover of my Soul. These are stories that will be read again. I share in these closing words by the author …

Now the abbey is wrapped in peace,
withdrawn into Great Silence.
Good night. Go well. God be with you.
Joy is there in the journeying. Keep the faith.

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own.


Penelope Wilcock is the author of The Hawk and the Dove Series and many other books such as In Celebration of Simplicity and 100 Stand-Alone Bible Studies. She has many years of experience as a Methodist minister and has worked as a hospice and school chaplain. She has five adult daughters and lives in Hastings, East Sussex.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the outstanding review, Carole. You again express beautifully what I thought of the novel.