BLESSINGS: An Autobiographical Fragment by Craig. Mary

BLESSINGS: An Autobiographical Fragment

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KIRKUS REVIEW

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.

Pub Date: June 19th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow