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January 10, 2016

Epiphany 1 Sermon 2016

In her novel Where the Air is Sweet, Tasneem Jamal tells the story of three generations of an East African family forced to flee their home country for Canada. The patriarch of the family is named Raju, and shortly before the family’s departure from Africa his wife passes away. After her death, the story goes, the days stretch on interminably for her widower. The author writes: He “spends the afternoons lying on his bed unable to sleep, thinking of the times he turned away from [his wife], the minutes, the hours, the days he refused to speak to her. One day, he counts each moment he withheld his love from her, each moment he rejected hers. If he could have them back, he would have months with her. He would have years.” If he counted the moments he withheld love ... he would have months, he would have years. Though Raju has lost his wife, the novel makes clear that it is not so much the wife who has been lost, but the husband himself. She is gone, and he is lost. “He reaches out,” the novelist goes on to write, “to the empty side of the bed, begging silently ... [f]or her.” One can imagine that if he found her there, we would be correct to say that he himself was found – he would have come to himself again.

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