On a recent cross-country trip, I ran into a new author and lots of wonderful, pesky questions about how I am (or am not) relating to the people and place right around where I live.
The trip was to Franklin, Tennessee. I went there to attend a funky little Christian conference called Hutchmoot. While there I started reading Jayber Crow, a rural tale written by Christian farmer and essayist Wendell Berry. I bought the novel at the conference bookstore and snuck away to a nearby hay maze during a break to get a little reading time and some needed solitude.
I was sitting on a dilapidated lawn chair in the exact center of the hay maze when I began reading this story of town barber Jayber Crow and his relationship to the place and people around him—the fictional river town of Port William, Kentucky. Berry’s novel is a vehicle for him to express his deep, human, Christian convictions about the importance of our relationship to the place and people around us.
Sitting in the middle of that hay maze I realized how hungry I was for just that. Berry’s rich description of Jayber’s steady connection to the