Looking for a good read over the holidays? If you haven’t picked it up already, I would highly recommend Tracy Kidder’s new book, “Strength in What Remains”. The title, which I love, is taken from a poem of William Wordsworth. The book describes the dramatic survival of Deogratias (which is Latin for  ‘thanks be to God’ ) from the genocide in Burundi in 1994. It’s a story linked to the mass murders that took place in Rwanda, the country that borders Burundi to the north, but is far lesser known.

Much of it is a gripping read.  The parts about Deo’s experiences in Harlem and NYC in the mid 1990’s were eye opening. Wow, what a gruesome picture is painted of the city then and what it’s like to try to navigate your way around when you don’t speak English and have no money.   It also  may make you think twice about having groceries delivered from  a supermarket, especially one which has the name of Gristedes. What they paid Dec could hardly be called a living wage…

Ultimately though it is a story of redemption , re-birth and return and you can definitely see God’s hand of protection and providence woven throughout Deo’s remarkable life.   Sadly though, he is yet to reconcile himself to a loving God, given the cruelty and evil he was both witness to and escaped from.

It’s a story of hope in the midst of  a terrible tragedy, not unlike the birth and hurried escape of the baby Jesus in the midst of the slaughter of all the 2 year olds in Bethlehem, some 2000 years ago… 

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