Daniel is walking out on what is left of his life. Admittedly, little seems left. He’s been out of work for a long time, having lost his job at a Seattle newspaper. His wife has been unfaithful, and although she pleads with him to stay, the marriage seems dead. He walks out into the night with a small bag, $5 and expired credit cards. He’s full of anger, rage at himself, depression, age-old hurts, and a broken heart.
He spends the first night on the street. And then he’s beaten unconscious. When he awakes, he finds himself in the upstairs apartment of the Olde Mysterium bookshop, being tended to by the shop owner, Saba Ghazal, a Lebanese Christian. And Daniel’s life will never be the same.
Thus begins Old Mysterium: A Parable by Douglas Patten. It’s a story of brokenness and faith, anger and forgiveness, and how one man learns the hard lessons of life and faith.
Daniel’s story doesn’t happen in a straight line, adding both familiarity and realism, because no one’s journey in faith happens in a straight line. Instead, it’s a few small steps, and then a stop, followed by slipping back and then almost falling forward. Daniel learns much about love and forgiveness from Saba Ghazal – and then finds he has to keep forgiving over and over.
The story has elements of the biblical stories of the Good Samaritan, the woman at the well, and several others, but artfully blended together to create a new story that forms a cohesive whole. (And it’s more novella than novel in length.) For those of us who came to faith as adults, even young adults, the story will often seem like our own story – we recognize ourselves in many of the characters.
Olde Mysterium evokes tears and smiles, memories and awakenings. And it explains the basics of faith in narrative form – grace, love, and forgiveness.
Photograph by Kajoch Adras via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.