Gilead: Light Within Light
The novel goes off on theological tangents at times (which I found to be fascinating), but it always returns to the heart. Here's a small excerpt, written as Ames is preparing a sermon about Hagar and Ishmael being cared for by the angel in the wilderness:
The moon looks wonderful in this warm evening light, just as a candle flame looks beautiful in the light of morning. Light within light. It seems like a metaphor for something. So much does. Ralph Waldo Emerson is excellent on this point.
It seems to me to be a metaphor for the human soul, the singular light within the great general light of existence. Or it seems like poetry within language. Perhaps wisdom within experience. Or marriage within friendship and love. I'll try to remember to use this. I believe I see a place for it in my thoughts on Hagar and Ishmael. Their time in the wilderness seems like a specific moment of divine Providence within the whole providential regime of Creation.
"Light within light" could also be a metaphor for this deeply meditative novel. Gilead is a meditation on Providence and on trusting in Providence even when events in our lives -- or our relationships -- are difficult to understand.
P.S.: You can read an excerpt from Gilead at The New York Times website (requires registration, which is free).