You might have noted, things have gotten awfully loud in our culture. Our public discourse has increasingly been reduced to shouts, vulgarities, and irrationalities.
Into this ugly noise comes the gentle whisperings of J. Vincent Hansen in his little volume, “The Medicine of Place: A Collection of Epigrams and Easy Essays.”
With Hansen’s words, and the photographs of Chuck Norwood, this collection works with delicate beauty to expose the sacred truth of place, simplicity, work and the important quality of being in awe.
The importance of place is stated simply in Easy Essay CCCVIII:
It is poverty of a sort not to
want to be back home by dark.
And again, in Easy Essay CLXXIX:
A knowing physician
will yet prescribe roots—
that is to say the medicine
How about the Sparrow for simplicity mixed with place:
Each spring the Robin
is given a hero’s welcome,
but I have no interest in him;
my concern is for the Sparrow
that stayed the winter.
And when it comes to work, how true is Easy Essay CCXCVIII:
More meaningful than the
blood that entitles me to say heir
are the tools of my father that
enable me to say successor.
When it comes to being in awe, read Easy Essay CLXXXVIII:
When God saw that
ignorance could not serve Him
and that Knowledge would not,
He created Mystery.
Then take in:
Should we slow down
enough, Nature has agreed
to hold our breath.
There are poems in this collection that will also ‘hold your breath’ if you give them a chance, such as The Lady Who Loved Ferns, Old Man Burnett, and The Lady Who Went Out Of Her Way.
Please don’t come to this book looking for knowledge. All it offers is wisdom. Don’t, either, look for spectacle. You will only get gentleness and beauty. And for heaven’s sake, don’t come here for arguments. This book will only offer you invitation, and of that, one after another.
The Medicine of Place: A Collection of Epigrams and Easy Essays. Text by J. Vincent Hansen. Photographs by Chuck Norwood. North Star Press: St. Cloud, MN, 2017.
Hansen is a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Sauk Rapids.