“Jane Kirkpatrick has, almost literally, created her own genre of fiction. Her books enfold…whisper, ‘Let me tell you about a woman who…’ They find a secret place in each of us and bring it gently to the surface.”
–Salem Statesman Journal
Suzanne felt the tears press at her eyes as the dream-state drifted away–taking with it the sight of the man she loved. Awake, she blinked back the tears. This was her life now. The sounds of the women and oxen, those were real. And the darkness–her darkness. She lay inside it, resigned. She was not a wife reaching out for her husband but a widow, a blind widow, wistful and full of desire.
FACING CHALLENGES AND LOSS, A COMMUNITY OF EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN FIGHT TO OVERCOME THE PAIN OF THE PAST – AND EMBRACE THE FUTURE.
When blind and widowed Suzanne Cullver reaches California with a group of women who have survived tragedy on the Oregon Trail, she sets her mind on doing for herself all that must be done. Though she cannot see, she rejects offers of assistance, unwittingly risking her children’s safety – and her own.
Her companions blindly falter as well, held hostage by their own pasts. As Suzanne attempts to control her life in Shasta City, Ruth defends against past errors, failing to see how she limits love. Meanwhile, Mazy’s vision seems to be permanently clouded by her late husband’ s betrayal. But when a young stagedriver risks all for a Wintu Indian, his life becomes entangled with the turnaround women – and together they are changed forever as they discover that No Eye Can See all the good God has in store for those who love Him.
About Jane Kirkpatrick
Jane Kirkpatrick is a best-selling, award-winning author whose previous historical novels include All Together in One Place and Christy Award finalist A Tendering in the Storm. An international keynote speaker, she has earned regional and national recognition for her stories based on the lives of actual people, including the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Hall of Fame. Jane is a Wisconsin native who since 1974 has lived in Eastern Oregon, where she and her husband, Jerry, ranch 160 rugged acres.
About the Book
NO EYE CAN SEE
By Jane Kirkpatrick
Suggested Study Guide
Book Two, Kinship and Courage Historical Series
“The real journey of discovery,” wrote Marcel Proust, “lies not in seeking new landscapes but in seeing with new eyes.” No Eye Can See, Book Two in the Kinship and Courage Historical series, invites such a journey, to look anew at the stories of our lives and find the healing strength within them. All Together in One Place, the first book in the series, presented a journey of remarkable women confronting the landscapes of rivers and deserts, lost loved ones and uncertainty. Theirs was a journey of refugees separated from their homes. No Eye Can See follows these women through the wilderness of relationships: relationships with others, with their past and their future longings, with themselves. It is also a story of being in bondage and what it takes to be free.
Each of the women in No Eye Can See struggled with what the traditional trail song calls “missing what we left behind.” Some of what they left behind weighed them down as much as Lura’s knife sharpener or Mazy’s bonnet dresser. Past mistakes, guilt, anger, blame and accusations, fear and anxiety, and hurt feelings kept them more tired than yoking oxen in the morning and robbed them of hope. Their inability to find new ways to see themselves, confront the lures of culture, and change their circumstances held them hostage as surely as if they’d been physically bound.
Few of us are physically blind. Few of us have someone in our life pursuing us or attempting to dominate our thoughts. More of us mourn the loss of things as they were before a loved one left, before our world turned upside down. And many of us are blind to the possibilities before us or within us. We allow circumstances and past choices to haunt us in our daily lives, and we fail to acknowledge that we are indeed immigrants in a time and place made new each day. The words we use, the focus we have, the small stories we tell ourselves - either carry us through the fray of car pool complications and family demands and disappointments or hold us hostage and separated from the joys promised “to those who love God.” Like Suzanne, we run the risk of believing we can do it all ourselves and may be blinded to the gifts of the Spirit given to help us accomplish the longings of our hearts, meant to help us through the wilderness experiences.
It is my hope that through No Eye Can See, each of you will find new meaning in your own stories. It’s long been my belief that meaning arrives wrapped inside stories, and until we discover the meaning of them, we’re destined to wander in the wilderness even though we’ve been given the promised land. Thank you for making this wilderness journey with these remarkable men and women - and with me.
Suggested Study Questions
1.The title, No Eye Can See, comes from the verse in 1 Corinthians 2:9. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard nor mind conceived of all the good God has in store for those who love him.” What kinds of “good” did Mazy and Ruth and Suzanne and Tipton deprive themselves of by refusing to see? What allowed them to change? Has guilt, accusation, or blame ever changed anything?
2.The word parable comes from words meaning “to throw along beside.” Select one of the women’s stories and consider how their story is “thrown beside” your own. How is your life journey like theirs and how is it different?
3.What held Suzanne hostage? Why was it so difficult for her to accept help? When did she finally realize that being strong did not require doing it all alone? How did she change her life after that point? What set her free?
4.What distractions kept Mazy occupied during her first months in California? Were these acts of service or were they ways to hold on to old hurts? What important human need was Mazy seeking?
5.Has Adora really helped her son? What relationship price did she pay? How can parents support adult children who have made poor life choices without becoming victims of those choices themselves?
6.It’s been said that no one can be a victim without participation. Do you agree? Some suggest there are always two things we can do if we feel like a victim of circumstance, a relationship, or an illness: We can get very clear about what matters, and we can have the courage to act on that belief. Did any of the characters discover these values? Can you think of a time in your own life when getting clear and having courage helped you “see with new eyes?”
7.The word compassion is composed of the prefix com, once said to mean “the exchange of burdens,” and passion, which we could define as “feeling.” Who demonstrated compassion in No Eye Can See? Why do we resist sharing our feelings with safe and willing companions on life’s journey? Are we more compassionate toward others than ourselves? Why or why not?
8.For those held hostage by feelings of anger and outrage, there are also two actions we can take toward freedom: to become curious and to have compassion for ourselves. What helped Suzanne become more compassionate toward herself? How does being compassionate enhance our spiritual journey?
9.The word focus comes from the Latin word meaning “hearth.” What is the hearth of your life and how does that direct your behavior?
10.If your reading group designed a quilt composed of blocks to characterize your story, what would your block look like? What would you title it? What story might you include of a time when you were strong?
11.What does the traditional song at the beginning of this book say to you?
12.What did Robert Hamma mean in the opening quote about “home being a place where our stories are told”? Think of a story in your life that characterizes home for you and share it with the group. Does this activity and this story help you see with new eyes?