A horse falls on a boy called James in Larry Woiwode‘s 1993 story, “Silent Passengers,” and of course he is hospitalized with dreadful injuries. Where is God? Well, though He is never mentioned in the story, He is there. Woiwode, a Christian, writes in such a way as to intimate this.
The details here are very troubling, but the story ends with James’s survival and recovery. Hence we know God is there, but would we know it if James had died? We could have, sure, but it would have been harder for the author to work it out, to make it evident. Yet death is a reality, notwithstanding . . . so is recovery.
Another, longer literary gem, Woiwode’s “Firstborn” (1983), is a study in anger and guilt. Rough childbearing precedes a desire to utter, “Good God, forgive me,” for a husband has been unfaithful (as has his wife) and moderately, unfairly violent. Sad but hopeful, “Firstborn” is a religious story without Catholic or Protestant references. I do not quite think it has greatness, as “Silent Passengers” does, but it is exquisitely thoughtful and consistently powerful. The man of faith did it again.