Every year I choose books to read during the season of Advent. Usually they’re meditations or reflections based on the season. But this year, due to my deadlines and crazy schedule, I’m only reading and studying one book: The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander.

This book was first published in 1944, in the midst of WWII, by an English woman named Caryll Houselander. According to her professional biography, Caryll “…was a survivor of two world wars, an art school bohemian, and a member of the same community of London writers that produced the likes of G.K. Chesterton. Houselander experienced a world fractured by war and ideological conflicts and sought to understand its roots in individual human emotions and choices. These concerns are evident in The Reed of God. The Mary that Houselander presents for our contemplation is at home in our world just as she was in Houselander’s own.”

I read this book years ago and am looking forward to immersing myself again in Caryll Houselander’s lyrical language and powerful stories about the little known life of Mary. In a world that seems plagued with bad news and rumors of escalating war, this book offers a powerful and hopeful look at the salvation of mankind and what it means to wait in suffering for unending peace and joy.

Thank you to Amazon for the edited blurb and links:

First published in 1944… The Reed of God contains meditations on the humanity of Mary, Mother of God. British Catholic writer and artist Caryll Houselander lovingly explores Mary’s intimately human side, depicting Our Lady as a musical instrument who makes divine love known to the world. This refreshed edition is rich and rewarding reading for all Christians who wonder what Mary was really like.

Confronting the static, surreal “Madonna of the Christmas card,” Houselander provides instead an intuitive, warmly human, and approachable image of the Mother of God. Through the central image of a reed that is played for music, Houselander demonstrates how Mary chose to make herself an instrument for the divine plan, giving her inmost being to the proclamation of God’s greatness. In sharing her distinctive vision of Mary, Houselander offers the Mother of God as a model for all people seeking to be instruments of the Divine.

The essays and poems in The Reed of God also reflect on the mysteries of Mary’s life and her impact on salvation history. In the book’s four parts, Houselander explores key events of Mary’s life, including her fiat, finding Jesus in the Temple, and the Assumption, as well as the themes of fruitful emptiness and the eternal search for union with God.

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