In the early 70’s, I was living alone on my family’s farm in Western Kansas trying to put my head and heart together. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, my two hero’s were slain the year I graduated from high school. That winter my mother died from multiple sclerosis two weeks before Christmas while I was away from home at college. At least getting a high number in the draft lottery kept me from the madness of Vietnam.
Working on a wheat and cattle farm gave me time to read and reflect, the universe is a large place in which to be alone. Standing under the stars on the Kansas prairie eased the sorrow of an uncertain future. The earth speaks, the stars listen, we eavesdrop.
Two memorable books from that period were GREAT LION OF GOD and DEAR AND GLORIOUS PHYSICIAN both by Taylor Caldwell a popular author in the 1950’s. The first book is a novel about the Apostle Paul, the second, Luke. DEAR AND GLORIOUS PHYSICIAN is now back in print by IGNATIUS PRESS.
The writing style is dated and somewhat hard to relate to. The current maxim in literature is ‘show don’t tell.’ Caldwell, like Irving Stone author of THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY, is mostly telling us what is happening.
However her grasp of first century life in the Mediterranean world as Luke transits from a young man filled with spirit and hope into a bitter cynic still fills me with the wonder of a community whose world explodes in scope with the arrival of Jesus.
Tradition tells us that Luke painted the first image of Mary, Jesus’ mother and wrote THE ACTS OF THE DISCIPLES as well as the gospel which bears his name. The Liturgical Press now has excellent editions of both books with commentary available in the SACRA PAGINA series. THE GOSPEL OF LUKE and ACTS may be purchased separately and will prove indispensable for students and mystics wishing to reflect on the Greek wording and intellectual insight that have made Luke the Physician such a cornerstone of the Christian faith in Christ.