This past week, I finished reading Catherine Richmond’s Through Rushing Waters. After talking to Catherine at a Transformational Author’s Tuesday Talks, I was drawn to this particular book because it deals with the Ponca tribe in late 1870’s. In this book, Catherine creates a well balanced historical picture of the competing interests of the US government’s Indian Bureau, the army, the missionaries, the settlers, and the Ponca. Somehow she manages to make you see both the beauty of the wild prairie that the Ponca have called home for generations and the ugliness of what happens to the land, and by consequence the tribe, when the land was settled and turned into farmland. At times the reader can even feel the land struggling to survive along with the tribe.
Catherine Richmond does all this through an unlikely heroine, Sophia Mackinoff, a young Russian noblewoman, who becomes a missionary for the Ponca Indian Agency. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure that Sophia’s backstory, the unrest in Russia that forced her and her father to flee and her Greek Orthodox faith, was going to contribute anything to this story. Yet Sophia is the perfect eyes and heart to tell the Ponca’s story through. Her own experiences as a foreigner colors in the Ponca life and gives a unique outsider perspective allowing the reader to appreciate all sides of the story.
As the title captures, the words ‘Through Rushing Waters’ anchors Sophia as her life, those of her fellow Indian Agency employees, and the Ponca are tried and tested. The true history isn’t far off from this fictionalized version. I found myself praying for intercession over and over and thinking about the real people who lived through these historical events. This book left me wanting to somehow honor those who gave voice to the injustices around them.
Through Rushing Waters is one of those books that will make you wrestle with a need to be different. Among the many lessons this book has to offer, one of the strongest is charity is love in action. This is echoed in the development of the romance between Sophia and Will Dunn. Will and Sophia teach us how to overcome our differences and get to know one another. We learn how to listen, how to meet needs, how different backgrounds and faiths aren’t the real obstacles, but our narrow-mindedness. As love develops between Will and Sophia, and through their combined love for the Ponca, the reader sees the greater love of God for all men.
As with all Transformational Fiction, I found myself gripped with the reality that this story is still being written. Throughout the book there are planted very small pictures of very great offenses universal to every Native American tribe. These injustices still exist and like Will and Sophia, I want to help give voice to these issues along with tangible ways to rectify our past mistakes. I also walked away from this book challenged to have a right heart towards others. To stop assuming I know what other people are going through or need. Real charity requires knowing and loving those who are different than me. Before I give, I need to listen to their needs and give even if it means sharing the last of what I have. This book reminds us that is the charity that God blesses, and the moment God proves Himself the provider of our needs.
I look forward to reading more of Catherine Richmond’s books in the very near future.
You can find more about Catherine Richmond and her books at her website.
You can also follow Catherine on Facebook.