Every so often a book comes along to restore our faith in miracles ….
Every so often a book comes along to restore our faith in miracles ….
Posted on Halo of Books – August, 2018
Close your eyes. Feel Love. Stay there. So inspired by this simple instruction from Rumi, the thirteenth century Persian poet. I’ve been sitting with it for years, on and off, mulling over the great love-mystery. How do I stay in love with others, with life, with myself? Some of us come to the answers without a lot of fanfare. Some of us don’t need to suffer before surrendering. Some of us are born with an understanding of love. I am not one of them.
It took a failed marriage, bad health, and years of financial trouble before I started looking for answers. It took raising a son with special needs. It took a lot of kicking and screaming, and reaching the point where I had absolutely no clue how to face the idea of tomorrow. It took reaching a dead end, and having nowhere else to turn but inward. It took stillness and humility.
In my novel, The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman, I wanted the main character, a fourteen year-old, disabled, gifted, American boy named Moojie, a boy like my son, to find his inner compass in his own way. Orphaned twice, bound to crutches, unable to grasp simple math and reading, Moojie is entrenched in feelings of anger, loneliness, and unworthiness.
The year is 1900. Moojie is eight, and his adoptive mother dies in a freak accident. He overhears his disapproving father in conversation, planning to send him away to a boy’s farm.
Hearing this, Moojie’s head started pounding and his stomach cramped. I don’t give a tinker’s cuss if Papa doesn’t give a tinker’s cuss; Papa and I belong together. The fire went up his spine, as always before a fit. He staggered into the house and, shaking from head to toe, smashed Papa’s piano bench with a wrought-iron fire poker.
Instead of the boy’s farm, Moojie ends up at St. Isidore’s Fainting Goat Dairy, living with his stern, war-hero grandfather, Pappy. There, he encounters the Light-Eaters, a reviled clan of outcasts from another world, who live like fugitives in a cave, and who are misidentified as Native American “hostiles.” For six years, Moojie navigates a secret friendship with the clan while defying Pappy’s prohibitions. He vacillates between feelings of hope and despair, rebellion and helplessness, desperate to prove himself worthy, to be loved. In fits and starts, he learns from the clan to see himself differently.
First, the clan priestess, Ninti, points him in a new direction. She and Moojie are at the creek watching a dragonfly, and she asks:
“Tell me, what is the dragonfly’s quest?” And when Moojie says he doesn’t know, she replies, “Well, at the moment, he flies for the sake of flying. But soon, he will fly for the sake of love.”
Love? Moojie recalled being loved, once. But his mother was gone. He brushed his dirty hands on his trousers.
“What’s a bug know about love?”
“Perhaps the discovery of love has all been laid out for him, the momentum, the light, the building of energy. Perhaps he is love itself.”
Gradually, Moojie develops a sense of himself as being more than a physical body with limitations. Ninti urges him to turn his attention inward, to calm his mind and watch his habitual thoughts and critical judgments. Amid complications of first love, and following several misadventures–some funny, some tragic–Moojie learns to trust his intuition, and to master his healing power. While tending a cow that appears to be dying, in a moment of utter humility, he witnesses her miraculous recovery. He senses an invisible presence, something mysterious acting through him:
And that was when it happened, the ringing in Moojie’s ears, and the sudden sensation of a pressure above him pressing down, of warmth pulsating all through his body and out his fingertips, mysteriously, unexpectedly.
I avoided naming this presence. Some would call it God or Allah or Yahweh or Jehovah. Some might say it is an angelic being, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, or Mother Mary. My feeling is the name does not matter; all divine manifestations are of The Creator, no matter what name we give them.
In the end, Moojie’s transformation will astonish all who know him. When the villagers ask him to explain his miraculous healing powers, he has this to say:
It takes a long time to wake up. That’s why it doesn’t happen to people who are in a hurry. When you’re trapped in a prison, and your heart is broken, and you can’t move a finger because you don’t know what to do, that’s when you wake up. And then the prison and the sadness don’t matter because you’re not afraid anymore. The ones you call Hostiles taught me this. Life is making choices, a million choices, every day. Sometimes they stack up behind each other, like behind a closed door, until the lock can’t hold anymore.
Like Moojie, the desire to discover my true nature came in fits and starts, and slowly I’ve been leaving the old beliefs behind. After years of making the conscious daily commitment to break away from seeking outside of myself for that which I already am, I’ve found that it’s not only possible to escape the prison of belief, it’s also possible to bring harmony to chaos and suffering. Living out from the understanding that I am love allows mercy, non-judgment, and abundance to reign, not fear. Not only have I experienced what might be considered miracles of physical healing, but the world also pours love back in ways I never expected. The world is the mirror of our innermost beliefs.
The most fulfilling thing, and perhaps the greatest thing, we can do for the world, is to discover who we are, beyond physical identity. We cannot seek outside ourselves for the answers. We can begin right now by closing our eyes, feeling love, and staying there.***
It’s the early 1900s in Western America. Hamburgers, air machines, and vacuum sweepers have just been discovered. Racism and bigotry plague the Valley of Sorrows following the Native Relocation Act and the influx of foreign immigrants. When Moojie Littleman is abandoned by his adoptive father…READ MORE
Script Review from Los Angeles – “The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman” is an emotionally powerful and viscerally stunning fantasy with a fascinating and hard-hitting family drama not overshadowed by all the spectacle. We are, with Moojie, entering a strange new world here where the incredible seems possible. At the heart of the story is … Continue reading Adaptation in development …
Author interview with Sheetal Maurya of India Sheetal’s review of The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman
In light of the recent terrorist attacks, and the surge in Neo-Nazism and white supremacy, I keep asking myself, how can I, a writer, lend a hand to my grieving, fearful, angry brothers and sisters? In January I visited the amazing Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, not too far from the Las Ramblas terrorist … Continue reading What Writers Can Do To Help End Terrorism, Oppression, and Racism