Review of Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1987.

            Nicholas Wolterstorff taught Philosophical Theology at Yale University, but his world was shattered when one of his five children, his 25 year-old son, Eric, was killed in a mountain-climbing accident. He has recorded his thoughts in this powerful little book, which might bear comparison with C. S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed, which was written with pain and emotion after the death of his wife, Joy Davidman. Twelve years after the tragedy, Wolterstorff said the wound was no longer raw, but it abides. So he refers to ‘this endless neverness’ – an irreplaceable person is gone. Wolterstorff has a way with words, and he records that the family committed Eric into ‘the tender resurrected resurrecting hands of Jesus’.

            Some quotes are in order: ‘All I can do is remember him. I can’t experience him’; ‘Sorrow is no longer the islands but the sea’; ‘I’ve become an alien in the world, shyly touching it as if it’s not mine. I don’t belong any more. When someone loved leaves home, home becomes mere house’; ‘Wounded love is special love’; ‘I do not know why God would watch him fall’; ‘In commanding us to love, God invites us to suffer; ‘The tears of God are the meaning of history’.

            And I could go on with more citations. Life is different. The gap is there until the dawn breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee, and all is made new.

– Peter Barnes