In a series of reflections focussed on his uneducated yet hard-working Mennonite family and touching on childhood exploits from shoplifting and go-kart racing to the juvenile fear of dying (which spontaneously arises during the rehearsal for an elementary school Christmas concert), Lloyd Ratzlaff takes readers on a journey from youth to philosophical maturity. Combining elegy and joyful nostalgia in a series of poetic essays, Ratzlaff recounts the struggles of his youth before analyzing his first marriage, his time at seminary school and as a minister, and examining life as the parent of adult children and closest confidante of a terminally ill friend.
Never straying far from his spiritual probing, the essays are informed largely by nature and the changing seasons which influence Ratzlaff's life in seemingly magical ways. Small enlightenments arise from his interactions with the natural world, ranging from a spring equinox marking the seventh anniversary of his father's death to the author's ritual of waking to the songs of a robin who comes each spring to live on the riverbank across St. Henry Avenue. Even a small gopher scurrying off and standing like a signpost between graves signals an exploration of mortality.
Humour and honesty define this spiritual journey, as the boy who grew up speaking an ethnically Mennonite language discovers that the very rigidity and unease of this tongue will become, in part, the catalyst for his own writing and part of his spiritual movement as he "treads his endless path toward the present." Bindy's Moon invites readers to experience the challenges posed by scepticism and the simultaneous desire to believe, weighing the darkness of doctrinarism against the endless energy of the spirt. Ratzlaff gives us a unique example of what so many have experienced, combining humour, quiet reflection, and pearls of carefully considered wisdom, in a poignant prairie coming-of-age autobiography.
Lloyd Ratzlaff brings the prairie landscape to life through a capacious imagination charged with wonder and the gentle irony of an awareness tempered by time and love. A remarkable new talent in the burgeoning field of literary non-fiction, Ratzlaff connects with the challenges posed by scepticism and belief, countering both the cynicism and doctrinairism of contemporary life with a renewed praise of the profound depths of the spirit and the natural world. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Ratzlaff currently makes his living as a writer in Saskatoon. He has worked as a freelance writer and columnist, a school counsellor in the Saskatoon Catholic school system, a lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan, and as a Minister at several churches in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Both his creative non-fiction and professional pieces have been widely published throughout Canada. He lives in Saskatoon.
Outgrowing an old mythology in the intellectual sense is a first (and in hindsight relatively easy) step; bearing emotional freight is another matter. The "Bindy" for whom this book is named grew up with me speaking an ethnically Mennonite and religiously fundamentalist tongue. Despite its anathemas (or perhaps because of them), the language became a strop on which our words were keened, for Bindy until his death, and for me still to this day.
I am a latecomer to the creative arts. Arthur Miller called writing "a way of synthesizing all of one's insides." This is a philosophical tussle with Blake's Old Nobodaddy throughout 1998, the year of Bindy's dying. Partly it's a confession (scary bi-polar genre, scorned at the newsstand end and extolled in St. Augustine), but also a kind of repentance of former uses of language in my own wordy careers as a minister, counsellor, and university instructor.
"Lloyd Ratzlaff turns a retrospective eye over times and places in his life and of those people who have nourished him and who he too has nourished on the spiritual roller-coaster that has been his life. Ratzlaff writes highly engaging prose that can be at times both surprising and disturbing, both witty and wise, but which always resonates with honesty. Bindy's Moon is a wonderful, deeply moving read, cover to cover." - Glen Sorestad
"Bindy's Moon is a wise and honest attempt to address the larger metaphysical issues that challenge us all. A keenly detailed, often lyrical exploration of love, loss, and courage." - Tim Bowling
"While a personal narrative, Bindy's Moon speaks to a larger element of myth, lore, and legend . . . Bindy's Moon invites the reader in to a simple life quest: to care for and remember those we love." - Lori A. May