Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A beautiful story!! The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen

“We all have to make choices sometimes, and our decisions have consequences.” (p. 463)

These twelve words are the summation of a great truth in all of our lives. Each day we live, we make choices that will roll forward into the future and carry with them unfathomable results. Pamela Binnings Ewen has written an enchanting, haunting tale that re-captures the life of her grandmother Barbara during the roaring 20’s. While some of the story has been fictionalized, the heart and soul of the tale exists within a captivating, independent-minded young woman searching for truth and meaning in her life. Her search spans many years and several continents, and it will take you back into a vibrant, tumultuous period in our country’s history. It is a story that will linger in you mind just as the evening moonlight lingers in your heart.

Barbara and Harvey leave the familiar home of their Philadelphia upbringing to become medical missionaries in Siam in 1919. Barbara meets the challenge of life in the remote jungles of Asia with remarkable flexibility at first. However, she experiences a violent, spiritual rape by one of her fellow missionaries that leaves her forever changed. From the moment she encounters this harsh, unloving god of religion she begins to question what difference any of her husband’s service to these people makes in the scope of things. Once she begins to question the reason behind this mission work, it’s as if her heart and mind goes into an all-out rebellion against all she has ever known of Christianity.

When circumstances in Siam become unbearable for Barbara, Harvey takes her home to Philadelphia. They aren’t in the states long before they discover everything from creation to theological doctrine has come under fire. This philosophical earthquake sends Barbara into an emotional tail-spin while Harvey once again finds fulfillment in his medicine. My heart absolutely ached for Barbara the entire last half of the book. I think everyone has suffered through the throws of their own spiritual awakening. God works through every circumstance in our life – every thought – every decision – showing us the way by revealing the consequences of our actions and choices. He lovingly draws us to Himself even when we can’t see His hand in any circumstance around us.

A wise friend finally confronts Barbara at the very pinnacle of her struggle. “The value of life is not measured by success – neither ours, nor others – nor by happiness or tranquility, nor by what people think of us. There are right actions and wrong ones. It’s not decided by how we obey men’s rules, sometimes even the rules of a church. It’s neither simple nor easy. Faith is grace. But the value of our lives is measured by what we do, by how we live. The words are nineteen hundred years old; ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits.’” (p444)

Barbara’s choices are not easy ones, and dear Harvey’s love for Barbara has got to be the strongest, sweetest testimony of marriage I’ve read in a long time. Their story is rich and will leave your heart and mind deeply changed. For you see, all of us have lived this story to one extent or another. I’m so thankful God loves me enough to bear with me in loving patience as I travel my own life journey, and I’m very thankful that The Moon in the Mango Tree was part of that! Don’t miss this wonderful story! You can visit the author's website here to learn more about her work.


Scrambled Dregs said...

This sounds like one I'd like to dig into.

But not on a Monday : )

Amy said...

I loved this book,too, it's been one of the best reads of the year.