In this story told in the form of a letter from a middle-aged man to his deceased father, Hanson invites us to journey with him through the final days of the father’s life, finding a magical transition waiting at the end of that journey. With a style that is highly personal, the narrator describes revelations, discoveries, and growth, as well as evolutions of family relationships during this period of transformation.
The story weaves end-of-life reality and spiritual questioning into a sensitive and revealing tapestry of Truth and Wisdom. The tapestry is colored with true stories of mystical experiences that inform the spiritual path of the son.
Like so many families today in our world of highly effective medicine and life-support, the family in this story faces the difficult and wrenching questions our culture must face: When does life begin and end? What are the complexions of distinction between bare and primitive "life" on the one hand, and "human-ness" on the other hand? Where and when and how do we "play G-d" with our decisions to withhold feeding tubes and respirators? How do we face these questions, and work our way to effective answers?
Woven through the story are descriptions of magical and mystical encounters that inform and guide the life of the narrator, helping to open honest questions about how "religion" aids or obstructs the journey through Faith that most people are called to explore.
Neil Hanson spends time these days in both his native Kansas and his adopted Colorado. In addition to writing, his passions include hunting, fishing, gardening, and long-distance bicycling. His blog postings usually revolve around these passions, often within the context of his love of the outdoors and strong sense of spiritual “place”.
Neil publishes and distributes a free email newsletter periodically (usually about monthly) that highlights a short essay, with links to other posts and articles recently published. You can sign up for this newsletter at http://neilhanson.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=dc84e3ae4ab8ed51c731f1898&id=49b8e02cc0.
He’s easy to find at his website (http://neilhanson.com), and through his blog (http://neilhanson.com/blog).
His book can be purchased directly from him by contacting him through his website or email (email@example.com), or through Amazon and other retailers.
From the pen of Neil Hanson:
Inside each of us are stories that need to be told. Some of us have a gift with words, and the stories come out as words on a page. In the “olden days”, the gifted storytellers didn’t need a page to let the words come out. For others among us, the stories reveal themselves through paint on a canvas, or from within wood or marble, or on the screen or stage.
I’m convinced that the greatest source of stress for many of us these days is our refusal to allow the stories within us to find the path out to the rest of the world. I guess it’s possible that there are folks within which no stories are trying to emerge, but I’ll bet not many.
When I sit at the keyboard, my fingertips are the tool through which the stories within me “escape” into the world around me. It’s truly a joy when this happens, nearly always leaving me with a sense of wholeness and satisfaction.
The story within Peace at the Edge of Uncertainty gnawed at me for a long time before I finally released it through the words on the page. It felt to me like it was a bottleneck of sorts, and until I released this story, I’d continue to feel the pressure of other stories building inside.
Now that the story is “fledged”, so to speak, I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to writing. I’ve got several “next projects” underway, each calling to me in its own way. I’m writing a book about long-distance bicycle tours I’ve been taking, another book that walks the reader through the Passover journey (essentially a Haggadah for non-Jews), and have been playing just a bit with fiction.
The idea of fiction is most intriguing to me, as it allows the most pure sense of storytelling. While I like writing non-fiction that is highly focused on the spiritual sense of place I find around me at any given time, the platform of fiction would allow nearly endless adaptation and creation around those places. I suspect a work of fiction is 2 or 3 books in my future though...
I feel quite lucky to be at a point in life where I can begin to let these stories emerge from me. The feeling I get when I’m writing is like nothing else I know. It’s a deep sense of satisfaction, maybe like scratching an itch that’s in a hard-to-reach place, like a dog must feel when you scratch behind his ear. I suppose all “creativity” is like that - a sense of satisfaction at allowing yourself to be the path through which something emerges for others to enjoy.
I’ve rarely felt happier and more at peace in my life, and I think this is in large part due to the “therapy” I get when I write, one of the many good symptoms of which is less stress in my life. I’d encourage everyone to find that “thing” within them that is the path for stories to emerge, and find a way to spend more and more of each day giving them-self over to that “thing”.
For a week following this post, anyone who signs up for my email newsletter or leaves a comment on this post on my blog (with their email address) will receive a coupon for a free eCopy of Peace at the Edge of Uncertainty. Note that all recipients will be receive future issues of High Prairie Reflections via email at no cost.
Thank you so much for your guest post, Neil. The story sounds fascinating.