Have a Little Faith: A True Story
by Mitch Albom
New York: Hyperion, 2009
In Have a Little Faith: A True Story, Mitch Albom, the author of such best-sellers as "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" has once again hit a home run. This true-life tale begins with a question. An elderly Rabbi named Albert Lewis asks Albom to give his eulogy. Taken aback by the question, he asks the Rabbi, who he refers to as "Reb" if he is dying. "Not yet," he replies. In many ways, "Have a Little Faith" is about that "not yet." It is about the journey that Albom takes to get to know this Rabbi better as well as the spiritual journey that takes place within Albom as a result. Interspersed in the story is the tale of another man of God, Pastor Henry Covington.
Covington has taken an unlikely route to the ministry and ministers to unlikely Christians. At first, the reader will wonder how these two tales are connected. The story of an upstanding Rabbi facing his decline, and the tale of a young drug dealer seem to have little in common. Albom, always the consummate story teller, has done a fine job of interweaving them into a beautiful portrait of what it means to serve God. The reader will have to wait for those connections to make themselves clear, but the wait is definitely worth it.
At the time when Albom is asked to write and deliver Lewis' eulogy, he hadn't really been around him in twenty-five years. Even as a child, he had attempted to run away from him. "He was tall, six foot one, and I felt tiny in his presence. When he looked down through his black-rimmed glasses, I was certain he could view all my sins and shortcomings. So I ran. I ran until he couldn't see me anymore." As an adult, Albom had moved away both figuratively and literally. He decides he needs to get to know Lewis better in order to do him justice in this final farewell. What Albom thinks will be a few meetings turns out to be eight years of interaction. Albom deftly shares stories from long ago with lessons from the "Reb" now until the reader is granted a very moving picture of him. In one particularly insightful passage, Albom tells of the Rabbi's pain when his young daughter died. Albom asked him that unanswerable question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" he honestly answered "No one knows." Yet, this never caused the Rabbi to question his faith in God. Atheism held no appeal for him. He stated, "It is far more comforting to think God listened and said no, than to think that nobody's out there." The Rabbi also shared his great secret of happiness with Albom. It's very simple, really - be satisfied and be grateful for what you have.
"Have a Little Faith" is about the journey - of these two men of God who Albom rights about and about Albom's own journey. Yet, readers will find their own journey in these pages as well, for humans, regardless of their faith traditions, reach out for the God that created them. We are always searching and hoping to discover more. In his conclusion, Albom writes that "it hit me, finally, that this was the whole point of my time with the Reb and Henry: not the conclusion, but the search, the study, the journey to belief." For me, reading and experiencing "Have a Little Faith" was one more step on that journey.
Albom has stated that 10% of the profits from this book will be donated to charity, including the Hole in the Roof Foundation, which helps refurbish places of worship that aid the homeless. Find out more at www.aholeintheroof.com.