Sunday, September 11, 2016

Journal Three-Young

     So far I have enjoyed reading Holding On. I am particularly fond of the anthology-like format; the short profiles create quick paced, easy reading and the pages just slip by, but the potent characters keep me keenly engaged. The varied writing style also lends interest to the reading. For example, some of the profiles have thorough introductions that give background information on the subject, such as Father Greving’s profile (pp. 49), while others have no introduction at all and simply launch into material from the interview, such as Mackey E. Brown’s (pp. 82). Furthermore, some of the profiles read like shorthand biographies, but others seem like scripts to short skits with stage directions and all (a stylistic trait of Isay’s that I truly adore). I believe that these differences, besides keeping the reading interesting, reflect Isay’s interactions with that person. Some of the interviews seemed extensive and deep, and others seemed to just teasingly scratch the surface.
     I chose to look further into Father Louis H. Greving's profile. Father Greving is responsible for running the Grotto of Redemption in West Bend, Iowa. In his interview, he discusses the history of its building, and I wondered what the grotto looked like today. I found their website and learned that all nine grottoes have been completed, just as Father Dobberstein envisioned, and it is a beautiful place.
The main entrance to the Grotto
Much of the materials used for the scenes and decorations are collected from the surrounding countryside. I was amazed by the variety of minerals used here: amethyst, jasper, several types of quartz, and spectacular geodes are all incorporated into the walls of the shrine. Even petrified wood is used, which strikes me as unusual. And what I find all the more amazing is that the vast majority of the manual labor and all of the artistic work is credited to the original founder, Father Dobberstein.
     It is this aspect that drew me to this profile. The theme of devotion is completely engrossing. I love the description of Father Greving in the introduction:
"Father Louis Greving is an intense man. When talking about the Grotto, his voice rises and falls dramatically, quivering with emotion. At the end of sentences he freezes, his head tilted thoughtfully, his mouth fixed in a beatific smile"
In just these few lines, Isay illustrates the tangible devotion of this man to this project. Even the picture of Father Greving shows it. He stands in front of one of the grottoes, his black clergyman clothes making a stark contrast to the texture of the rock figures behind him, that beatific smile on his face. I've never experienced this type of unwavering devotion to something, so reading about a man who has lived his life with it is very inspring to me.

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