“The heart has its own time. How incredibly fleet are the happy hours, and how leaden slow the sad ones. The clock cannot hurry the sorrowful minutes a jot, nor clip the wings of the joyous ones!”
Gladys Taber, Stillmeadow Seasons
When I was twelve years old I ran away. Well, not literally; I just hid in my room away from my four brothers and sisters and all the noise of summer. I wanted a quiet place alone, an escape from my all-too-ordinary life, into another more peaceful one full of beauty and kindness.
Not that my siblings were markedly mean in anyway, but when I was in charge, as I often was, there were a lot of moving parts—we didn’t always fit each other. I, the bossy big sister (a ‘grown up’ 12 years old) and my younger charges—ages 7 to 11–were always getting into one scrape or another. All I wanted was peace and quiet and a place to feed my soul instead of making bologna sandwiches to feed everyone else.
The best place to find my escape was in the pages of a book.
I can still remember lying on my bed with “Little Women,” Louisa May Alcott’s story written (I thought) just for me. Why? The heroine-Jo (my mother’s nickname for me) was not only the oldest, but the bookish one—we were exactly alike. Well, except for the long dresses and bustles…
The pages of “Little Women” afforded me a get away like no other. Lying on the bed in our humble Southern California house I was transported to a world of make believe and dress-up, parties, plays, and my favorite—for I wanted to be a writer,too—the pages of the Pickwick Portfolio.
Alcott’s “Rose in Bloom” caught my fancy next, a story of a young girl and her beaux, a coming-of-age story that resonated with my almost-13-year-old soul.
Gene Stratton Porter’s “Freckles” was another favorite; I still have my copy, Joanna Lee Ohlsen written in cursive on the right inside cover. My own father left us when I was 5; we were being raised by my stepfather at the time. I think there was something in my spirit that was looking for a place to belong, a connection of sorts that Freckles needed as well. And of course, there was his ‘cathedral.’ All these years later it’s clear there were many sacred echoes in that story.
This summer is no different. I have my bookstacks all ready. The ‘vacation’ pile—for our 2 week trip to see relatives in New York (but who am I kidding? Will I even have time?)
And there’s the California stack for my week with my sisters…a little more low key; plus, there’s beach time, hence book time. I might make more progress.
Whether I read these choices in the next summer-y months or into the Fall, the lure and escape of good literature is always there. My favorites are authors like Elizabeth Goudge, George MacDonald, Gladys Taber, writers from over 60 years ago who somehow seem to mine deeper and richer words than those writers of today.
Someone has said that all good stories lead to God, which is why I still like to get lost in the pages of a book, listening for those sacred echoes.
What are you reading this Summer?