Title: The Lilies of the Field
Author: William E. Barrett
Major Themes: Legends, Hard Workers
Synopsis: Homer Smith doesn’t expect to stay for long when he stops to help three nuns build a fence—but when they request and then plan on him building a chapel for them, can he refuse?
There are few stories that originate from legends. Fewer, even, that have any connections with real people and real places. The Lilies of the Field is one of those select few. It is not a satire, or a fantasy—instead, it is a cold, hard, factual account of an unknown man. That man was Homer Smith.
Little is known about him other that he appeared out of nowhere, accomplished what most people would call an impossible task, and then disappeared again. William E. Barrett has taken what little we do know of him, and created a realistic, believable story.
Homer Smith, an Afro-American ex-GI from Texas is on his way to see the west when he happens upon an old farmstead where four nuns are trying to scrape a living out of the barren land.
Mother Maria Marte is a determined woman. Although Homer Smith doesn’t know it yet, she wants him to build a chapel for her. Not just any chapel, either—she has a drawing of what she wants, and a foundation from an old burned down farmhouse to build it on. Will Homer allow himself to be drawn into the scheme? Can one man build an entire chapel?
The Lilies of the Field is hard to get into, but the story is well worth the time spent on it. Homer Smith’s story is short and concise, and takes only an hour or so to read. Yet it teaches beautiful lessons on resourcefulness, determination, and willpower. I’m looking forward to letting my brothers hear this book.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15