Between Midnight and Dawn, Compiled by Sarah Arthur
This vibrant and rich collection of stories, poems, and prayers that connects Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide is a wonderful compilation. Called Between Midnight and Dawn, compiled by Sarah Arthur, each an Opening Prayer, Scriptures, Literary Readings (both contemporary and older), personal prayer and reflections, including a closing prayer at the end. Beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding in Eastertide Week 7, the collection spans a broad range of themes from repentance to consolation and deliverance. The entries are rich with interesting stories and beautiful poems, that each reader is sure to find something that catches their spirit.
In the first entry on Ash Wednesday, included is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story called the The Minister’s Black Veil in which Reverend Mr. Hooper came to the pulpit one Sunday wearing a black veil. The crowd bemused that he had gone mad or weren’t even sure it was him. But Hawthorne says of his oratory, “It was tinged (his discourse) rather more darkly than usual with the gentle gloom of Mr. Hooper’s temperament. The subject had reference to secret sin and those sad mysteries which we hide from our nearest and dearest, and would fain conceal from our own consciousness, even forgetting that the Omniscient can detect them.” (24) The simple appearance of the black veil caused one lady to say, “How strange that a simple black veil, such as any woman might wear on her bonnet, should become such a terrible thing on Mr. Hooper’s face!” (25) The theme of the disquieting of sin and the terribleness of it was demonstrated quite evidently in the appearance of such a veil.
Another great feature of the book is incorporating contemporary poets in the collection. One of my favorite poets of the whole is Luci Shaw. In her poem on Matthew 20:26 she writes,
You practiced a radical sociology:
rehabilitating call girls and con men.
You valued women and other minority groups.
A family practitioner, you specialized in heart transplants. (83)
The all-including ministry of Jesus is here on display and his endeavor to bring to the kingdom the dregs of society and bring them into the foreground. Luci captures this ministry by seeing Jesus as a family doctor, bringing new hearts to the sick, a beautiful metaphor that really touches the hearty of his ministry.
From Dickens to Shaw, from John Donne to Adichie, these entries bring out the best and worst of human nature, and be doing so illuminate the seasons of Lent and Eastertide. For those who love great writing and seasons of the church calendar, this collection is not to be missed.
Thanks to Paraclete Press for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.