The Parables of Sunlight is a book by Margaret Dulaney, the author of Listen Well, the spoken word website exploring open faith ideas through story and metaphor.
The book follows Margaret as she adjusts to her new life of farm ownership, and the questionable gift of an abandoned racehorse, whose life hangs in the balance for half a year. At the time, this struggle mirrored others of a similar intensity in Dulaney’s life, such as her mother’s battle with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The story illustrates the powerful resilience of hope and offers an antidote for cynicism, countering the temptation to give up. Readers will find resonance with their own battles, and the need for perseverance in the face of despair.
The book will appeal to anyone who has ever loved an animal, a patch of land, or a community of loving souls. Imagine if Anne Lamott wrote Charlotte’s Web — that is what this book brings to the table.
The book starts with Margaret and her husband leaving Manhattan, where they had been living for 18 years, and moving to a 100-acre farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It progresses as different events happen in Margaret’s life, the most prominent among which are the arrival of an abandoned racehorse Allie and the death of her mother.
The book’s title is from the Dylan Thomas poem ‘Poem in October’, where the narrator sees a child walking with his mother through parables of sunlight. Margaret imagines that she walks along with a compassionate teacher/guide all her life, as he lets her set the pace and notices things along with her.
She navigates through many difficult phases of her life. Although she struggles to remain optimistic and make sense of everything, she is empathetic to all living beings. She believes in different religious philosophies and reads many books that guide her spiritually.
I liked Margaret’s thought processes as they resemble some of mine – especially those about death and how to treat animals. The parables or short symbolic stories she uses to illustrate some truths/morals/religious principles are also quite interesting.
It is a profound, beautiful book, and I enjoyed it immensely. However, it might not appeal to everyone.