The season of Lent began last Wednesday with the signing of ashes for many Christians who are called to an examination of conscious, turning away from bad habits and forming good ones, reflection and meditation. My wife subscribes to The Magnificat, a monthly booklet whose trademark is owned by the Magnificat Central Services Team, Inc., A Ministry to Catholic Women. This year they offered a companion booklet in support of Pope Francis' call to enter into an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy which he deems a time for believers to grow stronger and more effective by attentively focusing on God's action in our lives. The Companion Book of Mercy contains daily reflections on scripture, ancient writings of church leaders, and poetry from the modern era. As I ponder the readings of the day, I am struck with the realization that fiction characters must possess some spiritual quality or they will not be real to the reader.
We generally accept that humans have three basic needs: physical, emotional and spiritual. The first two occupy center stage of fiction plot and character in all forms.....romance, thriller, western, horror, suspense, etc. Spirituality ... a believe in Other Power or other forms of existence or supernatural or sacredness. Spirituality does not equate to Religion, but can encompasses it. Regardless of one's own beliefs, readers can sense spiritual expressions in horror books where supernatural, other-diminish, angels and demons, etc., are part of the plot. Ditto for science fiction. A sense of peace and appreciation of nature and the living interplay of creatures is found in environmental, Native American, and wilderness portions of plot. Romance is a key user of spiritual when evoking the connection between characters, especially love and rejection.
Let's resolve to look more deeply for these traits in both our reading and writing.