I picked up a copy of Lilies of the Field at my local library book sale a few months ago. I was intrigue by the cover art; it looked like a proper library book. Browning pages, binding that has seen better days, and the artwork fitting of a first edition from the 1960’s, all for 50 cents. Today was one of those rare days where I found myself looking at my TBR pile and not being interested. Scanning my bookshelves, I found this book hiding between Pride and Prejudice and the Diary of Alice James.
Seeing that I had a first edition copy of the library version was surprising. I love how the book feels old and that there were perhaps thousands of kids who read and enjoyed this story before me gave a bit more excitement to my reading experience. The illustrations preceding each chapter are unique, helping to move the story along and bring the reader into the setting of the American Southwest.
“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin”
This line from book of Matthew sums up Lilies of the field perfectly. The reference to this verse rings throughout the story. Working and helping others is not for profit but neither should the worker want or need for anything. The exact tools and help is given at the right moment and when needed.
The Lilies of Field is a story about where the crossroads of life lead us. Homer Smith, recently released from the army, is travelling around the country. He is a wandering searching for place to belong, finding his footing in life; when he comes across 3 nuns building a fence. Homer does not know why but he stops and offers assistance to the nuns.
Mother Maria Marthe is a hard nun. She has escaped communist Germany and fled to the American Southwest, along with 4 nuns, she is building a compound to the trouble youth of the nearby city. Along with Homer Smith, the local priest and the Spanish inhabitants of a local town, she builds a church that helps unite a community.
By the end of the novella, I had a good feeling inside my chest. This was a rare literary experience for me. This story about community service, not for profit but from communal gain left me inspired. It is a simple story that is so rare in literature today, a simple story about life, religion, and the faith one places in their religion.
The only downfall was the lack of character development all around. The story was intriguing while the characters were flat. I wanted to know more about Mother Maria Marthe’s background. How the nun’s escaped and reached America. I wish there was more to their backstory to make their story complete.
A powerful, well-written novella to occupy a few hours in the afternoon, Lilies of the Field is a novella that leaves you with a sense of satisfaction and an unique reading experience.