Wednesday, April 28, 2010
CONFUCIUS JADE by Frederick Fisher is rich in beauty and excitement. I traveled around snowy mountain ledges which seemed to reach the bottomless pit of the earth with a fine Chinese family who traveled from Burma to China. While reading the book I delighted in learning about people different from myself.. In a way I felt as though someone had a Divine Hand in my reading this book. On a second reading, I began to remember my childhood. When I was a little girl, I had an uncle and aunt who were missionaries in Borneo. Through letters mimeographed for each household we strived to picture this unknown and dangerous land so far away from our home in Philadelphia.
In due time I would see my uncle's photographs in a Life magazine. Sadly, after many deaths, many moves the magazine disappeared. Almost daily I yearn to have that magazine back in my hands for my children and grandchildren. Since my uncle did not make his letters creative only practical, I missed the wonderful way he could have painted China with words. Of course, my uncle and aunt did not have time. They were teaching the basics of life to groups of people. They were sent to Borneo by their Baptist church. Perhap, this is Frederick Fisher's legacy to paint this beautiful unknown world for us. This book, CONFUCIUS JADE is beyond whatever thoughts or mind paintings I might have experienced about China by reading books, looking at documentaries and movies. This book is as rich as a holiday fruitcake.
The Kong family are destined to carve jade. I would say it is in their genes. When Mei Hui brings home two heavy pieces of wood or driftwood there is a question of what is lying hidden in these pieces. The answer is Shou-Xing Lao, the Chinese God of Longevity. The way Frederick Johnson describes the intricate work of two people back to back on handcrafted benches with mirrors on all sides begin and do succeed at carving an image of The Chinese God of Longevity. One figure is the reflection of the other figure.
I found myself falling in love with the symbolism carried by or following Shou-Xing Lao. There is a spotted deer, a large juicy peach and a staff in the Chinese God's hand. Carefully, gently, these two carved figures will make it all the way to San Francisco. The two family members carry the figures in red, white and blue bags with a lot of packing around the figures to keep the fragile cargo safe.
In San Francisco, the family decides with care how and to whom to sell these figures. What will they do with the money? A Sheikh is chosen, an Emperor of the Pearls is chosen and a newspaper baron who has as his goal to own all the newspapers put out by small presses around the world. These men are not millionaires. These men are billionaires. The money from the figures will create a sure and lasting plan involving Confucius, the author of the Five Virtues.
This book made me think of my childhood. I remembered my wonderful uncle and aunt who would, before returning to the states, adopt two Chinese children, a girl and a boy. I also thought about living a life of worth. Good thoughts tend to grow and grip tightly on to our hearts expanding from one person to three people to half a dozen. A good heart never remains frozen. Confucius' Five Tenets expand and push forth like the seed of a peach tree or a Redwood tree. I can't say enough about this book. Frederick Fisher has to be a great man with a good heart and now he has published a book filled with beauty and love and adventure.Frederick Fisher, Confucius jade