A Dresser of Sycamore Trees: The Finding of a Ministry

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9780060643577: A Dresser of Sycamore Trees: The Finding of a Ministry

The prophet Amos, a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees, had a parallel, and more challenging, calling as a shepherd of human souls. So too does Garret Keizer, an Episcopalian minister to the community of Island Pond in Vermont's Northeast Kindgdom. This profoundly contemporary book displays not only keizer's knowledge of life's small practicalities (winding the church clock, shopping for groceries), but also his insights about faith and the mysterious ways of God. With an eye attuned to both the pleasures and foibles that make life on earth so rich, he presents a refreshing and often hilarious account of the hands-on work needed to maintain a parish and sustain its spirit. He is a man who believes that God's intentions, if seldom apparent, are inevitably compassionate and compelling.

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From the Publisher:

A surprise critical sensation that brings to life the everyday epiphanies of a lay minister in Northern Vermont-"One of the most truly religious books I have ever seen."--Noel Perrin

From Kirkus Reviews:

An overwrought account of a churchman's daily life, written by an English teacher who serves as ``lay vicar'' of a small Vermont parish. Keizer seems to be a likeable and earnest young man; he is certainly guileless. We are given, at the start, an extremely meticulous account of the undefined yearnings that led him first to consider, then to reject, the vocation of an Anglican priest. He chose instead to become a schoolteacher and accepted a post in the ``Northeast Kingdom,'' a remote area of upper Vermont. His religious convictions remained strong, however, and he became deeply involved in the activities of his local parish--so much so that he was asked to assume leadership of it when the pastor retired. It is obvious that Keizer was the right man for the job- -his love for his work and his parishioners is proclaimed on nearly every page--but once this much has been established, he seems to have very little to say. His ordinary routine of prayer and work (Sunday services, visits to the sick, committee meetings) is duly set forth, but it is hard to see the drama that Keizer imputes to these events. Basically, this is a story that we have heard many times before: It takes all kinds; most people are decent; many are unhappy; quite a few are confused; and some are just no good. Keizer's fond excitement, while undoubtedly sincere, seems out of all proportion, and his apocalyptic prose--a monastery chapel, for instance, is described as ``a fragment of Eden full of possibilities in which one vaguely heard a serpentine hissing''- -doesn't help matters along very much. Well intentioned but bland. Instead of strip-mining his life for morals and epiphanies, Keizer would have done better to let events speak for themselves. -- Copyright 1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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