Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 8...
It's the end of our Summer Book Club, and this Catholic librarian is feeling a bit emotional. It doesn't help that my kids are on a short overnight trip with their grandparents to a water park, and I'm all weepy about THAT, too.
My lucky husband. ;-)
But let's get down to business! The final segment in our Summer Book Club for 2017 is about to begin...grab your beverage!
All right, so we pick up with Shem and Mara on the run. They had met Mary, and are on their way back to Sychar, but with Mara trying to convince Shem that he must heed Jesus's call to follow Him. Shem, unlike Mara, is still very much unconvinced that Jesus is the Chosen One they've been waiting for. As Shem and Mara travel, they continue to grow in affection for each other. Shem decides that upon their return to Sychar, he will ask Mara to marry him.
When they return, they are happened upon by the roving band of bitter men that are always causing trouble in Sychar, i.e. Zevulun and his minions. 😒 They immediately accuse Mara of being just like her mother. Shem and Mara of course rightly deny this, but reason and honesty play no role with Zevulun. He drags them to the temple, where Mara is publicly accused of untoward behavior outside of marriage. Shem isn't too worried, because the punishment for this when both parties are unmarried is for them to get married. This is what they both want anyway. Right?
Mara does want this. But she feels deep in her heart that it would be wrong to prevent Shem from following Jesus the way he was asked to. She denies him her hand so that he will be free to follow Jesus's invitation.
Shem is devastated. This is a *very* powerful scene. 😢 And apparently, they now have to ask any of the other unmarried village men if THEY will marry Mara. If none of them will, she will be stoned.
Shem is still begging Mara to marry him when Enosh steps forward. And so Deltaflute and Melanie were correct!
Enosh wants to marry Mara, AND he defends her good name in front of everybody, saying that he will pay a full dowry for her hand in marriage, though in this situation, it is not required (as a way to further humiliate the woman in question). Enosh loves her. Though Mara hadn't seen Enosh in a romantic light as of yet, she is very fond of him, and knows that he will be good to her. She believes that she will only continue to grow in her feelings for him, and so she accepts. They are betrothed on the spot, and Mara consents to a one day betrothal as a sign of good will towards Enosh's kindness and generosity to her.
While all of this is happening, Nava walks in. Not only is she healed, but so is Asher! His club foot has completely disappeared.
Shem is in disbelief, but Mara's dramatic actions, and Nava and Asher's healing, have a deep effect on him. For Mara to be so convinced that he must follow Jesus, it drives the point home to Shem that there is something special about Jesus. He has a change of heart and realizes that he wants to do as Jesus has asked. He will go to Jerusalem.
He and Mara have a painful goodbye. He knows that Enosh will take good care of her, Nava and Asher, but his heart is broken that he cannot be with her as he wishes. Mara is also crushed, but still optimistic as her wedding day dawns.
In the epilogue, our worst fears are confirmed: Shem goes to Jerusalem to do the Lord's work, and is stoned by an angry mob. He isn't afraid, knowing that he will be going to his eternal home with Jesus.
Holy smokes. This was powerful. I have to admit, even though I know how this story has to end, I felt frustrated with Mara for not just agreeing to become betrothed to Shem during that dramatic scene in the temple. Surely, saving herself from stoning and being able to be there to take care of Asher, and making a family with Shem, would be a good and holy thing! Even with my firm faith in our Lord, I struggled with this! Her faith is an inspiration to me.
And that moment with Nava and Asher walk in! *swoons* I had tears in my eyes.
My take-away on the love story is that Mara will grow to love Enosh romantically, and that the first tentative steps in that direction have already been taken emotionally. Plus, she trusts him and he makes her feel secure. She knows that he will make her happy. This gives me a warm and fuzzy.
All right, I NEED all of your thoughts now! I *cannot wait* to read the next two books in this series with you all!