When we were at Kelli's wedding festivities this summer (just a note, but this blog really owes a lot to Kelli's wedding - the inaugural pool post, the wild dancing picture, and now this), Eric and I spent most of our time with Matt and Stephanie, an awesome couple who we don't get to see nearly often enough. Being newlyweds themselves, and readers with good taste, they recommended a book that someone had introduced them to - A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.
You probably realize by now that I have read a lot of books. In fact, between my job with Latte Books, my time at the institute selling Rabbi's books, my dream of an online bookstore, and my own private reading habits, I practically breathe books.
That being said, I've never really read or heard of a story quite like what the author shares in A Severe Mercy. It's not so much a memoir of his life as it is a memoir of the relationship between him and his wife. Don't be alarmed if you're not a romantic; it's not just a story of falling in love. Rather it is the unique tale of them falling in love, analyzing how to stay in love, and finding God and dealing with how that impacts the whole concept.
To top it off, the couple was friends with C.S. Lewis, so they include some brilliant letters from Lewis during several critical junctures in their lives.
It's a more honest and intentional discussion of love than I think I've ever encountered. I was challenged to reevaluate my love for Eric - not condemned or necessarily convicted, but definitely challenged. I have to admit that there were certain parts that I wasn't sure if I agreed with, but they served to raise questions, questions that were worth wrestling through for me.
I don't want to share anymore, in case anyone wants to read it. Not knowing the whole story is half of the experience. (But if you get it from the library, be prepared to wait a bit. There's always a line.)