Recall how far our isolated characters have come. When Steel opened this story, we saw the isolated Ginny preparing to jump to a pre-Christmas demise in the icy East River. She was distracted from that terrible end by one we might call Blue-of-the-shed, a fellow with no blue skies before him, only grey.
Freedom by staying within boundaries
Life for these two did not remain so dismal but became brighter than either of them imagined. Blue, who always did better with adults than peers, has found himself surrounded by interested and capable adults. Most significant of these is his bond with Ginny, a surrogate mom of sorts. Beyond Ginny, there is Julio at Houston Street, detective Jane Sanders, and attorney Andrew O’Connor.
Blue has not lost his freedom to run away. Even though he has the freedom to run back to the streets he stays in the helpful confines that Ginny has raised around him: school 1, Houston street, and now LaGuardia Arts high school.
Ginny is driven to meet the needs of others. No longer must she run to a refugee camp to satisfy this drive, but neither does she set aside that which has defined her since the death of her family. In fact, in this 14th chapter, she deployed to the direst of circumstances known to her. That Syrian experience cast Blue’s in a different light not trivializing but framing it.
Now mental health is landing in and around these two troubled individuals. They each have their tasks and places in this world, but together they are better. Blue even sees Andrew O’Connor as a role model. Here was a man who had been a priest, but not a Father Teddy type. The Blue-of-the-shed is now just Blue. Ginny has come to a point where she happily anticipates her returns to New York City.
Reading of things like this is uplighting. These things are helpful, not demeaning; beneficial not harmful.
Ginny’s dad dies
We knew this was coming, and its arrival splashed down right after the exhausting events of Syria and Ginny’s return. Steel casts this, however, in a manner from which the Christian should shy. All too often when a community member passes away, an attempt at comfort is made by saying, “they are in a better place now.”
Steel carries on this tradition by indicating the happy marriage of Ginny and Becky’s parents is restored, or at least their togetherness is. In John 14 Jesus told Thomas that there is but one way to heaven and that through faith in Jesus as the atonement for sins. In our culture, phrases like Ginny gives here arise from the assumption of bliss forever. Whether or not Ginny’s dad was in harmony with God is not part of the afterlife equation. Jesus offered himself for that harmony, but he indicated that it is not blanket applied to humanity. It is available and held out to all, but each person must make their own choice.
So, this chapter puts a lot of good on display. Matters of death and life after it, though, must not be softened up or dissolved beyond recognition. We all face the “next.” It can be brighter, better, but the guarantee of it according to Jesus rests on the acceptance of his offer. I think it is quite like Blue accepting the improvements that Ginny held out. He did not have to, but things were far better for him since he stayed in the confines Ginny set up around and yet for him.
Other entries in this series