I promise you.
I would do you a great disservice if I quoted from the book, or showed images from the book. You need to discover these for yourself. Buy your copy. Find a quiet place, a place that is uninterruptible. Take a deep breath and then read, read aloud - and see where this little book takes you. OK?
Resisting that urge to give you a taste of words and images, I am going to settle instead for some reasons why the book has impacted me.
Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner, knows how to craft a phrase and a word picture. Oh yes, he does. It is poetic. For any lovers of a haunting word picture out there, you will be captivated, captured.
I am no artist, but my best friend, Marty Roy, certainly was. In this book, the illustrations, done by Dan Williams, take up far more space than the words, with full pages given to those messy, smudgey watercolours, which Martin himself did so well. The outcome is a combination of word and image that is as good as it gets. I'm serious.
[BTW: Martin died of cancer a few years ago and today is his birthday, and so it is a good day to be talking about art. I used to dream of doing a book together with him, with me attempting the words, knowing that the images would be so compelling].
It is written as a letter, a prayer, from a father to his little boy. More than that, the story of their lives can be overheard, as he writes and prays. Yep, now the affective, the emotional side of the reader is fully engaged. Oops - I forgot to mention it above. Remember that quiet, uninterruptible place where you read it aloud? A few tissues might be a good idea.
It is a story drawn from the refugee crisis, generally, but also that image of Alan Kurdi, specifically. Remember him? The three year old Syrian boy washed up and found face down, on the beach in Turkey? I keep that picture of him in the same folder as the ones of my grandchildren, watching it appear randomly on my desktop, reminding me that my vision and my heart must be for more than my own.
The message is one we need. Borders are going up. Countries are shutting down. Trade wars are heating up. Compassion is cooling down. The idolatry of the nation state is taking over. I am so disappointed by those Christian brothers and sisters who fall for this idolatry. Why do they use so much energy, as Christians, to demonstrate that their nation (or, 'our nation', when my sights are turned on NZers) is so special, more special than the next one? What Bible are they reading? What Christ are they worshipping? God's heart is so clearly and explicitly for the peoples of the world, irrespective of nation. Why can't we image that same heart? Why can't peoples who are without a nation, wandering and displaced, become a priority for us?
These days a lot of my time is given to helping people preach from different biblical genre. Well, this book is a hybrid genre. As I suggest above, it is epistle and poetry, with a pinch of narrative. But for those with ears to hear and with eyes to see, maybe it is a bit of prophecy and apocalyptic as well. And doing all of this in less than 10 minutes...