A debut book offers a brief meditation on love, family, and religious devotion.
Belknap has never tried his hand at writing before, but after a long life for which he’s brimming with gratitude, he felt inspired to put pen to paper. An engineer by training, he traveled the world working for oil companies, visiting Colombia, Iran, and England. He eventually married Carolyn, his first wife, but after a series of debilitating illnesses, she finally died. Belknap also tragically lost a daughter to a car accident, and his second wife, Donna, died as well. But no matter what hardships befell him, Belknap found solace and encouragement in his Christian faith. More specifically, an unconditional love of Jesus served as ballast during stormy seas. This is a very short book—the author more than once refers to it as an “essay”—and can be read in one relatively short sitting. Part self-help book, part memoir, the volume is also an homage to Donna—Belknap even provides a chapter-length poem that memorializes his love for her and includes these lines: “She truly loved me too, and often told me so. / She frequently told me that she loved me more every day, / and I often told her I loved her more every day too.” The author’s prose is unadorned and lucid, and consistently suffused with an unpretentiously avuncular charm. Occasionally, there are some excesses: for example, after a life filled with the blessings of family, it seems implausible when the author claims that writing this book “has been the most rewarding experience of my life.” Furthermore, his perspective is unabashedly Christian, so the message is unlikely to resonate with the unconverted. But it should appeal even to those who are already deeply committed to Christianity, because the book emphasizes not just accepting God, but being open to the myriad ways he communicates to his flock: “One time, a long time ago, in reviewing my life with God, I recall a time when God may have been talking to me and I was not listening, did not want to hear, or most likely had not learned to listen.” The readers who will get the most out of the work will surely be those who know the author, but Christians looking for a quick source of encouragement should be satisfied.
A cheerful reflection on a life of Christian observance, and a tender remembrance of loved ones lost.