The Poisonwood Bible

Wowza. I read the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver this weekend. My, how it brought me back.

Ten years ago, I lived in Mali, West Africa…for just one year. It’s a year I remember better than any year of my life, and yet it doesn’t feel like it’s possible that it was THIS body that was there. It feels like another lifetime or a very long dream or a movie you grew up watching. I never talk about it, and I think that is because there are just no words. No one in my life was there to witness it with me, except one good friend who lives in TX now, and even with her, our memories are enough. It’s just too heavy for words.
But this book. This author knows how to describe the taste, smell, feeling of an African village. She is remarkable, the sheer amount of lessons carefully weaved into this piece of historical fiction. It should be read by anyone going to Africa, period, especially going as a missionary. It’s painful and scary, as is Africa! But it’s beautiful and real, as is Africa as well. I realize I’m not giving any real thoughts or details here; I’m not even telling anyone to read the book, because it could mess you up entirely! But in my soul, it stirs what has always been there. It’s not as raw and broken as it used to be, because I’m sealed inside this new season of life, a season of life where God has chosen a different slew of priorities for me. But it is still there. I’ll always love the people of Africa with a huge portion of my heart; I hope some of them in the village of Dialakorobougou know it.

4 Replies to “The Poisonwood Bible”

  1. I read The Poisonwood Bible during the late summer/early fall of 2002. Profoundly affected. Those two words sum up my reaction to it. For 18 straight hours I read and read and read and came away a different person. I was more aware of the frailities of humanity, the strengths of humanity, and the many ways people approach God, community, family, government, poverty…

    I actually broke off a two year relationship with a guy I cared for very deeply the day I finished that book. Somehow all the lessons contained tirred the deepest parts of me and prompted me to face myself with utter honesty.

    Several years later I still ponder the story and lessons from time to time.

    It’s one of those novels that astounds and breaks hearts and teaches lessons and so, so much more.

  2. OK so after reading your post and then Dana’s comment I’m thinking that book scares me all ready LOL! I apparently need to read some of her books though b/c her name just keeps coming up everywhere I look. 🙂 I also, wanted to say that you mentioning Mali takes me back to Cville and before I really knew you. I remember hanging out with Jack and some other friends one evening listening to tapes of children singing that you had sent back to him. I had no idea what they were singing but it was amazing. It’s one of those memories that I will never forget and you are forever tied to that.

  3. thats really neat, Teaque. I like how God tied together Mali with C-ville and other places where my friends and family were. I always thought that was probably a big reason why I was sent there. What’s so weird is that I cannot imagine listening to those tapes, I never get out picture albums either…it’s just so painful because it’s been 10 years and I never got to go back. It’s just too sad to acknowledge that the kids are now parents, and who knows if their parents that were my friends are even still alive? 🙁 Anyway…thanks for going there with me, friends. I appreciate it!

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