Faith and Spirituality
As the first word of the title suggests, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is primarily a book about seeking God. A ‘‘pilgrim’’ may be merely a person who travels, but more commonly the word is used to describe someone who travels to a holy place. For the narrator, the creek itself is as sacred as a church; it is here that she encounters God’s grace in its purest form: ‘‘So many things have been shown me on these banks, so much light has illumined me by reflection here where the water comes down, that I can hardly believe that this grace never flags.’’ In using water as a symbol of God’s presence and grace, Dillard is drawing on centuries of religious tradition.
Throughout the book, Dillard balances the seemingly opposing forces of heaven and Earth, of God as the creator of beauty and of horror. Much of the imagery in the book is of the beauty and complexity of nature, reflecting God’s grace. In every sunset, every egg case, every snake skin, the narrator sees God’s generosity. But at times, reading about a praying mantis that has devoured her mate or contemplating hoards of parasites, she rails against the cruelties of nature, asking, ‘‘What kind of a world is this, anyway?’’ She wonders whether the mystery of cruelty is not part of God’s plan. ‘‘It could be,’’ she muses, that God has spread ‘‘a fabric of spirit and sense so grand and subtle, so powerful in a new...
(The entire section is 1314 words.)
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