I felt that I was "somewhere safe with somebody good" reading Jan Karon's latest and long-waited for novel about Father Tim and his wife Cynthia. In times when news about church leaders is not always good--and Karon tackles the very subject superbly in this book--Father Tim represents the many who year after year continue to serve God and their flock.
Years ago I was reading a small book by Phyllis Nicholson, written in 1947, called Country Bouquet. I was reminded of Father Tim then when Nicholson wrote about the contribution a member of the clergy has on the village where they live, and even more so after reading Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good.
"How profoundly clergymen affect the parish in which they work, and how subtle are the secrets of their influence. To be good is not enough; goodness, without the backing of personality, seldom attracts or holds the interest of a mixed body of persons. What, then, does? A standard of living and appearance to command respect and invite imitation. Unfailing endeavor to put the crooked straight. You can't 'look up' to any individual who is carless in dress, or gobbles their soup and frowns upon black sheep. Almost everyone admires and responds to a practical attractive manner of living. They appreciate a well-cared-for home, good food, the kindness and understanding that lifts every day life from drabness into worthwhile experience."