Homesteading the Soul

A Spiritual Apprenticeship with a Prairie Grandfather

ISBN 9780988532007
390 pp; $17.95

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Synopsis

The remarkable relationship between a city boy and his prairie Grandfather is recounted in Homesteading the Soul. The youngster finds wisdom, strength, and an appreciation of life’s passages through mentorship with his grandfather, who guides with story and example.

Among the powerful human dramas and social dilemmas of America’s wartime past, “boy” finds wisdom, strength, and an appreciation of life’s passages through his remarkable relationship with a prairie grandfather. Evocative, heartwarming, edifying, soul nourishing, Homesteading the Soul is compelling reading that moves us to tears and laughter and new understandings of our own lives. It is a celebration of the power of love and an exploration of the growth of the soul presented in a personal and captivating way.

Winter 1943. The Allies are close to losing World War Two. On America’s Home Front, a six-year-old boy is sucked into an emotional and spiritual morass. Isolated and alone, he falls into despair. Soon, however, he is heartened to discover that his elderly “Grandpa” has successfully resisted the pressures of “civilization” and is on good terms with his own soul. An informal mentorship evolves in which Grandpa helps “boy” find the stability he so desperately needs and to connect to his own inner resources.

Grandpa, an old homesteader, recounts adventures from his own life: coming out West, trying to survive on the prairie, a barroom murder. The boy’s experiences with his grandfather are filled out by other contemporary voices, who—in the language of their time and place—provide additional insights into Grandpa’s life and informal teachings. Stories about death by lightning, an epidemic, a lynching, and alcoholism as well as lighter tales of Sunday dinner, riding a combine, and touring the County illustrate personal, moral, and social values and dilemmas: Life and death, resistance to authority, aging, and compassion. Each episode presents revelations to the boy, though he doesn’t understand their soul-making value until he is grown. Another layer explores the meanings of these experiences for the boy as an adult and their import for others. The boy, now a young man, finds his dream life haunted with visions of his recently deceased grandfather—who shows him the way even beyond the grave.

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