Penelope Wilcock is the novelist behind the Hawk and Dove novels (haven’t read them) She has worked as a Methodist Minister and chaplain and been a tutor and trainer for Methodist preachers. In 52 Original Wisdom Stories, Wilcock takes us on a journey through the Christian year following the stories of Sid and Rosie. Sid and Rosie are an older couple. Sid is a Catholic turned Quaker. Rosie is a spiritual-but-not-religious soul who has left regular church attendance behind. Both are thoughtful believers despite their distance from the church. Sid draws on his history with liturgy. Rosie’s reflections bring her into contact with the East– Buddhism, Taoism, etc. They are remarried and have children and grandchildren, though none together.
Wilcock begins with Advent and ends with the feast of Christ the King. Each narrative ends with questions for ‘sharing and wondering’–discussion or personal reflection–and a prayer. And all the stories are fully-photocopiable, free-of-charge for use in churches and groups. In addition to the broad liturgical rhythms, some of these stories reflect on feast days for particular saints. The breadth of the Christian year allow Wilcock to engage the whole human experience and each story is a revelation about the spiritual life, the human experience, and Sid and Rosie.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured this would offer me some liturgical reflections, a way to beef up my preaching, especially in high seasons like Advent, Lent and Easter. But I got something different. By placing her reflections in the voice of Sid and Rosie, two ‘Dones’ who had left mainstream religion behind, she offers us an insider-outsider perspective of those who believe but don’t readily belong. There is also a quotidian quality as they fit Christianity into daily-life, unadorned by ecclesiastical vestments.
But Sid and Rosie aren’t theological lightweights. They deeply engage the Christian story and seek to follow Jesus. They reflect on hosipality, love, life, death, brokenness and more. I liked meeting them in these pages. I give this three-and-a-half stars. My point of critique would be, I wish that Sid and Rosie came to a richer engagement with Church as a body of caring believers. They engage the tradition well, but I think there is something to the experience of the Christian life they are lacking.
Note: I recieved this book from Kregel Publications (and Monarch Books) in exchange for my honest review.