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On I-75 with Levi’s Will

I didn’t know I’d chosen the perfect book to read on this particular road trip with my family: Levi’s Will, by Dale Cramer. Just before we started our 12-hour drive to a wedding in Michigan, I grabbed the book. It’s about an Ohio boy named Will who ran from his Amish family at age 19, wound up in Atlanta with a new last name, and spent years seeking reconciliation with his hard-headed father. The book was named one of Library Journal’s best books of 2005 and Booklist’s best Christian novel of the year, and it has been nominated for the 2006 Christy Award.

Honors aside, I would have loved it on its own merits and also for the way it dovetailed into this particular weekend. I didn’t start reading it until we were on our way home to Atlanta after the wedding. Somewhere in Ohio, it struck me: We were traveling the same highway, I-75, that Will drove, over and over, between Atlanta and Ohio. We had just witnessed a wedding that was largely populated by conservative home-schoolers whose lives seem somewhat Amish-like. And, like Will, we saw two worlds mixing and sometimes looking at each other askance.

I kept reading as we zipped through the flat Ohio farmland and into Kentucky’s hills. I had nearly finished by the time the tire blew, just north of Berea. I retreated to a shady spot on the hillside to read while my husband and the boys worked on getting the shredded tire off. They had some trouble with it, so I had plenty of time to read and think–about the fathers and sons and brothers in the book. About the women who loved them.

I kept wondering about the Amish and about some of the more conservative wedding guests. Why won’t they let their daughters work outside the home? Why do the women wear head-coverings? Why do they keep having babies every year until their wombs wear out? How do various groups decide where to draw the lines on particular issues?

I couldn’t answer most of my own questions, but the guys conquered their problem with the stubborn tire. We climbed back in. I finished the book before dark as we drove on through the mountains. Driving twelve hours in one day, you cover a lot of territory so quickly that you see the contrasts: flat farmland in the morning, rolling hills and rugged mountains by afternoon, and city freeways and skyscrapers lighting the night. It’s all part of one day. The varied landscapes are all parts of one country.

Different types of believers are all parts of one body, like it or not.

At the wedding, the different trappings didn’t seem to matter. I suspect they should never matter very much. What matters is getting past the rules to the grace. Getting past the differences to the hearts. I need to remember that, always. Thanks to Dale Cramer for the beautiful reminder.

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Categorized: fiction
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