Living Reed by Pearl Buck – Susan’s Newsletter July 2007


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July 26, 2007  Susan’s Newsletter
The Living Reed by Pearl Buck

Good morning!  I’ve downed my coffee, locked away the cats so they won’t walk on my keyboard, and ready to say hi to all of you!  It seems easier to think again back in my own home, with familiar sounds of train whistles, birds, and my own little coffee maker percolating away near me.  Such a beautiful sound!  You are going to have so much fun in the next week at our little bookstore.  Boxes should begin arriving any day with orders from University of NE Press, Harcourt (children’s books), Navpress (teen books), Harvest House (gift and memory books), and American Girl.  We have the lemonade and ice water for you – come in just to escape your personal world by entering ours!

This week I’ve been reading The Living Reed by Pearl Buck.  She is known for The Good Earth, a little paperback that my dad said he stayed up all night devouring after opening the pages.  Pearl Buck has her roots in the orient, which I’ll be honest, hadn’t previously gripped my interest.  This novel is absolutely fascinating, with the setting in Korea, the main characters all from the same family as Korea undergoes changes in politically, affecting change in traditions.  I’ve only marked two little paragraphs so far, so will write those for you to think about with me this week – hoping one will give you a laugh, and the other on prayer will bring you comfort.

This is a conversation some men were having regarding Chinese women coming out of their homes.  They were discussing that those women ruled their men, not staying in their homes where “they belonged.” This is the then the funny story told…

…his father told him the story of that magistrate in Korea of ancient times who suffered because his wife was master in the house.  The magistrate called together all the men of his district and explained his predicament.  Then he asked those men who also were pan-kwan, or henpecked, to move to the right side of the hall.  All moved except one man, and he moved to the left.  The others were surprised to see even one man at the left and the magistrate praised the man, declaring that he was the symbol of what men should be.  “Tell us,” the magistrate commanded him, “how it is you have achieved such independence.” The man was a small timid fellow and, surprised, he could only stammer a few words, explaining that he did not know what all this was about and he was obeying his wife, who bade him always to avoid crowds.  (I just thought that was funny!)

Later in the novel missionaries come to the community of our characters.  He told the Koreans the following on his view of prayer…

“Do not expect to hear a voice,” the missionary had told him when he inquired as to whether he had prayed properly.  “Simply cultivate the habit of prayer and after a while you will find answer in the content it brings to your heart and the direction it brings to your mind.  Wait upon the Lord.” Anytime I remember the simplicity of our ability to enter God’s presence it amazes me – just a drop to our knees or a look to the hills – where our help continues to come from.  The line that caught me was prayer brings direction to your mind.  Wait.  That short word is a hard one, isn’t it?!??! 

The fair is coming today – a little whoseit just cried at the top of his voice, “Moooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.” When I entered his domain he sat straight up and had a huge grin and exclaimed, “Do you remember what today is?!?!?!?!  I woke up early to remind you it’s time to go see the sheep!  It’s the fair today!!!” You’d think it was Christmas he was so excited.  I think I’ll head for another cup of coffee………………………….! 

Have a great week!  Let me know if I can find any books on what you or your family/friends need encouragement or help in.  Don’t forget we will send gifts for you, or gift certificates, or that you can order them on-line at our web site.  Thank you so much for you business.  When you come in and don’t get a personal thank you from me – please still know how important you are & that I wish I could’ve personally sent you away with a smile!  Now go into your weekend taking the time to notice what is beautiful to you.  Surround yourself with what you love – even if it’s just picking a small herb to give your home a sweet smell!  Go take on your day – it’s yours to make memorable for either yourself or someone that needs you!  Susan

Work Cited:

Buck, Pearl S.  The Living Reed.  London: Moyer Bell, 1990.