One of the best books I've read this winter is the small but powerful The End of Suffering by poet, memoirist and essayist Scott Cairns (so small that I somehow managed to misplace my copy after finishing it, and so powerful that I ordered myself a new one immediately!)
In 2006, while attending my first Master of Fine Arts program residency, I had the pleasure of hearing Cairns give a keynote address at an annual arts workshop which ran alongside the residency. Cairns spoke on that year's theme: "Love and affliction: The paradox of art and suffering." The address was the seed of what Cairns calls a "study of suffering," in which he draws from the life and works of a wide variety of individuals--from prophets and poets to early church thinkers and classic literary authors.
I find Cairns’ book to be a profoundly moving meditation on the questions raised by human suffering, including the relationship between God's purposes and our pain. In fact, so rich was my experience of reading it that I suspect it will be fruit for some future blog reflections, especially as I've had some more time to consider how Cairns’ insights connect to the particular affliction of Christian persecution.
I thought it worthwhile for now, however, to simply bring this beautiful little book to your attention—and if any of you have read it I would love to hear from you. If you're interested in learning more about it, you can read an excerpt on the publisher's website. I'd also encourage you to check out the musings of another blogger whose entry on the book I happened upon recently and really enjoyed.