A Man Visits Sick Heart River

On Sunday, my father preached a wonderful sermon at TPC. One of his best, I think. He spoke of Christ’s loneliness on the cross, and afterward, a parishioner asked him if he knew of any artistic representations of that kind of loneliness. We have gory images in art, so we can imagine Jesus’s pain. But do we anything that communicates his abandonment?

Some suggestions were thrown out: Harry entering the forest at the end of Deathly Hallows; the film version of Endo’s Silence; part of The Power and the Glory. I mentioned Bernanos’ Diary of a Country Priest, which is a real bummer of a book. My dad brought up a John Buchan novel called Sick Heart River, which he had read years ago. It’s about a man who goes out into the Canadian wilderness to die. Google didn’t give us much information, until I discovered that the book was published in the US under a different name: Mountain Meadow.

I’ve been collecting books that have been released from Samford’s library. They put them on a little red roller shelf that sits in the lobby with a sign taped to it that says “FREE BOOKS.” One of the many volumes I’ve schlepped back to my office over the past few months is Mountain Meadow. When I picked it up, I knew nothing about it except that it was written by John Buchan. Now I know it is good enough for my father to remember it after twenty years.

Here are some photos of the object of my good fortune.