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I only liked one page of The Handmaid’s Tale. It certainly is a dystopic affair. The story is morbid. The characters are hard to warm to. The pages turn with sighs. But then upon one page, a shaft of light fell and brightened the story – at least for me. The handmaid, whose only task in her sad, contracted life is to fall pregnant and deliver a child for the Commander of the household, offers a beautifully honest prayer:
‘My God…. I wish I knew what You were up to. But whatever it is, help me to get through it, please. Though maybe it’s not Your doing; I don’t believe for an instant that what’s going on out there is what you meant.’
I agreed and said a quiet ‘Amen’. The domestic world of The Handmaid’s Tale has little connection to ‘what God meant’. In the Garden there was deep friendship and mutual respect. There was romantic warmth and an interested intimacy. There was equality and exclusivity and energy and expectation. But in the Tale, there are caricatures of love, and distortions of family, and travesties of marital devotion.
It would be nice to get back to the Garden. We seem to be moving so far away from the original soil. And with such haste, and with such a strange ambition to distort the marital-blueprint. But a supplication has now been prepared for the day when the cracks in the new paradigm begin to show. And some will find great consolation in the handmaid’s prayer.
DM 9th August 2017