By Rev. Lori Ethridge
Minister to Senior Adults
I participate in a monthly book club at my condominium complex. The reading selection for the month of March was A Man Called Ove by Swedish novelist, Fredrik Backman. A Man Called Ove is not a “religious” book by any stretch of the imagination, but it is full of “light’. As such, it casts a warm glow on the human experience in most poignant ways. It is about an ornery man in his early sixties who has recently lost both his wife and his job. Ove has every reason to be bitter, and he is; life has not turned out the way he had hoped or expected. He is so bitter in fact, that throughout the first few chapters of the book he tries unsuccessfully to take his own life. Each time, however, there is a hilarious interruption that thwarts his attempt. Ove’s neighbors, who have always viewed him as the town curmudgeon, come to his rescue, most times without him even realizing that their quirky predicaments are sustaining him, each time giving Ove reason to live.
This book is full of good Methodist theology, often touching on themes of prevenient grace and resurrection. Its message is as ancient as our scriptures, where the apostle Paul reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). Our circumstances may change, our physical abilities may change, but God’s love remains constant through all of life’s joys and disappointments. Our work is to accept whatever comes our way, and to trust that the grace of God is ever present, and at work, even in the losses. I highly recommend, A Man Called Ove, as a wonderful companion on your Lenten journey. A Man Called Ove is about a man called to love; and we are all called to that task.