The Lilies of the Field


Homer Smith, a black ex-GI who is “two parts amiable and one part plain devil,” has set out to see the west. He travels – and sleeps – in second-hand wagon until he meets a group of nuns in a valley just west of the Rocky Mountain range. The German nuns need a church and Homer needs work. The town, it needs hope.


Lilies of the Field is a straightforward tale of faith and beauty that comes from hearts responding to God. It is a story about the kind of freedom that comes only when one surrenders to God.  The writing is powerful, but sparse; evocative, yet simple. A quick read at only 128 pages, Lilies of the Field comes highly recommended.


  • Author: William E. Barrett
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (July 29, 1988)
  • Reading Age: 13 – 17 years
  • 128 pages


What You Need to Know

  • Role Models/Authority Figures – Homer is a hardworking, ethical man. Mother Maria Marthe is a strong-willed German nun confidant that God has answered her prayers.
  • Violence – None.
  • Sexual Content – Homer wants to “dance with women”, “look into the eyes of women and see himself there, fueling pride in his manhood.”
  • Language – None.
  • Consumerism – None
  • Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – Homer smokes cigarettes during the week, and on Sunday, a pipe. The pipe is a memorial to his father.
  • Religion – The book is a reverent portrayal of German nuns, a Baptist wanderer, and God’s work in their lives.
  • Other – Gambling is mentioned in passing in the first chapter. Homer encounters racism in a nearby town. Later, the town people have realized they were wrong and make amends.
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