The value of suffering does not lie in the pain of it, which is morally neutral--but in what the sufferer makes of it."" The lesson came hard to Mary Craig, mother of two retarded boys. And it comes still harder here, over a puzzling route that leads straight to the inspiration shelf after a good start and some promising early turns. Craig tells her personal horror-story in a plain, sturdy British: son Paul was born with gargoylism--his mind so vacant that it never even registered her existence, his deformed body chronically incontinent; son Nicholas was born a ""mongol"" (no connection), and minus a rectum. In 1962, past the end of her coping tether, Craig left the boys with her willing husband and spent an escape-week as a volunteer at the Sue Ryder Home for Nazi concentration-camp victims--dubbed the Bods. And suddenly she learned, from their uniformly affirmative, unself-pitying example, that to hide in a shell or wallow in despair was to deny reality and wholeness. Her catharsis is impossible to apprehend, except as the result of her being humbled; but it was reportedly more, and reinforced by more Bods met later in Poland with Sue Ryder. Ryder too is peculiarly elusive, a cardboard hero of uncompromising charity and stamina. The lesson unexpectedly devolves to Christian parable in the last chapter: ""To me the death of Jesus on the Cross demonstrates that self-offering love is the only force. . . strong enough to overcome death."" Mary Craig bears sincere witness to the redemptive power of suffering, but ultimately she has to be taken on faith or not at all.