“Only in those moments of vivid experience that made her come alive was she at home in her own country.” –Marianne in Green Dolphin Country, Elizabeth Goudge, Hodder&Stoughton, 1944
Friend T and I were chatting on Instagram the other day about my favorite author (see above). There’s no writer I can recall whose stories have deepened my vision of the Gospel and my appreciation for the beauty of language quite like Elizabeth Goudge.
But my heart is also quieted today, a heaviness at the back of my bones, weighted down by worry for the world and the myriad of ways we are messing it up. I’m afraid to read the headlines (we’ve canceled our daily paper) and when the news scrolls across my computer screen I click through to a different page. There is it the present reality of war and famine afar and the deranged antics and societal injustice at home. Big heavy sigh.
It seems foolish and insensitive to trivialize the trials of this day and age by attending to other simple joys: the gentle breezes waving fir branches outside my window or the way a chickadee alights on a bird feeder, the bright burst of daffodils against the grey. But the mundane holds a bit of miracle this week before Easter. Indeed, the miracles are there in all our days if we but look.
Attending to the richness of words in a good story is another way to pushback the unseen edges of this cool, gray day, much like reveling in the bright color of the salmon-y pink blossoms of quince bush in my back yard. (this is a friend’s clematis by the way, not my quince.)
Remarking on such simple joys may seem frivolous to some. Blossoms, books, birds.
But it’s not frivolous, no. For one, noticing the glorious passages in a good book can call us to remember that beyond the bleak and gray of the day in front of us there is Easter on the other side. For, if an author does it correctly, resurrection will show up in the language and in-between the lines of a good story.
“All good stories lead to God,” my friend Laura opines. I’m inclined to agree.
But really, why discuss the finer merits of a passage of literature when these are such somber, serious times? Shouldn’t we be d o i n g something?” Well, yes these are somber, serious times. It is Holy Week after all, the days we dwell on Christ’s passion prior to His resurrection.
But often the wisest recourse we have is to remember to fill up our own souls with the staying power of beauty and truth.
So, I give you this, in addition to the joy of remarkable, inspirational language, there are also the right-in-front-of-us gifts: days of new sunrises, friends and family nearby to laugh and pray with, the morning’s hot coffee in a special mug, a favorite book on my lap.
These are also days when the word of God holds out hope, our very breath and life. The one and only Good Book.
When we have the companionship of others on this journey–always with its terrors and triumphs–we can often find a common denominator to lift us up and keep us in place with the anchor of a well-loved book. A favorite line or passage in a poem or paragraph, the sing-song of dialogue that makes us laugh, an author’s way with language as she paints a picture of a season’s wonder and discovery. Together we remember there is beauty above the here and now. We remind each other, “Let me tell you about something I read….you’ve got to hear this.”
When we share the good news of a great story, lines that comfort, encourage and inspire we are partners of a piece of small joy, if even for a moment.
My prayer this week and in the weeks ahead is that you would find a good story to sink yourself into (alongside the Source of all good stories, The Book of Books, of course.)
The promise of Easter is the power to change how we see the world through God’s eyes. There is victory on the horizon, whether it’s right now or in the not yet.
May you find a good story to anchor your life, not because you want to escape this world but because in its pages you might find what you’ve been missing.
And if you need a place to start for recommendations–good fiction and Christian non-fiction, Sarah Clarkson (aka ‘BookGirl’) has her recommendations here.
Tell me what you’ve been reading~I’d love to hear in the Comments. Maybe I could read over your shoulder?