A Soldier Surrenders, by Susan Peek

 cover sample 8 (2)   Susan Peek has introduced another of her friends in high places. Camillus de Lellis lived in the sixteenth century, a time of saints and turmoil. Nonetheless, his life and example relate especially well to our times. His résumé included life as a soldier, a veteran, a wounded warrior, a gambler, a drunk, a homeless person, a nurse/orderly, a hospital administrator, a founder of a religious order, and ultimately a saint.   With his father, a fellow mercenary, he chased armies, joined battles and spent his free time carousing and card-sharking. De Lellis sold his loyalty to the highest bidder, so his motivations weren’t always the most noble. After battles, he gambled and drank away his wages leaving him hungry, homeless, and reliant on his luck at cards.   A giant of a man, Camillus could have inspired today’s movie makers with his battlefield heroics. However, the real Camillus de Lellis stood in stark contrast to the current trends in action movies that present warriors as graceful, powerful, lethal, and photogenic, even after an hour of cinematic mayhem. The author provided a more honest representation of sword, musket, and hand-to-hand combat and its blood-splattered, weary and wretched participants.   Piety came later in the life of Camillus de Lellis and only after a series of false starts. Although he healed from his battle wounds, a mysterious and painful leg ailment dogged and humiliated him. It also disqualified Camillus from vocations that seemed well suited to his spiritual development. His temper and arrogance cost him jobs and sent him back into destructive behavior. Like the biblical Balaam, de Lellis finally saw the light with the help of an equine companion.   Susan Peek has written A Soldier Surrenders with love. She engages her audiences with the depiction of a man who shared many of our weaknesses, yet, despite his limitations, handicaps and bad choices, his example still encourages us to persevere in our pursuit of our calling to holiness. A Soldier Surrenders would serve as a sympathetic companion for us all, especially for those with lives shattered by war, chronic pain, homelessness, unemployment, or chemical dependency.