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Invitation to the Feast

Amy Welborn

It is the fall of 1947 on the ruggedly picturesque Cornwall coast, and Reverend Bott must write a sermon. A normal part of the job, yes, but the minister is struggling with this one, for the occasion is particularly challenging. People were dead, others had survived, but he could not exactly deliver a funeral sermon. The bodies in question were already irretrievably buried under a massive, collapsed cliff. All had been guests or employees at the ramshackle seaside hotel at the base when, not without (unheeded) warning, the cliff had fallen, engulfing the inn and all who were inside. What could anyone say in the face of such a tragedy? Thus opens Margaret Kennedy's clever novel, The Feast, originally published in 1950 and re-published recently by Faber & Faber.

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Birth. Death. What lies in between? A short span, often punctuated by suffering and loneliness. Each of us must wrestle with the “perennial problem of human finitude” (Ratzinger) and face the question of our life’s meaning. Is it good . . . fundamentally? Does it promise anything? Does it keep its promise? Absent hope in a good answer, we try to escape reality with numbing diversions of various kinds—from screens to drugs. We hang on, barely alive. Instead, when we attend to the glimpses of goodness in our existence, it is possible to engage it fully alive in the hope that our finitude will blossom into the abundance of eternal life.

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