“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. …
“I think you’re fulfilling that ambition every day,” said Gilbert admiringly.
And he was right. Anne was of one of the children of light by birthright. After she had passed through a life with a smile or a word thrown across it like a gleam of sunshine the owner of that life saw it, for the time being at least, as hopeful and lovely and of good report.
~ Anne of Avonlea by L.M Montgomery
I have a bit of a melancholy bent to me. Today is one of those days where I woke up still tired from a really weird dream, had to go to an invasive doctor appointment, and generally started the day feeling foggy and grumpy. When I start to feel cloudy like this – when my daily life starts to feel a little misty – I go to one of my favorite friends. Sometimes I need Anne, sometimes Valancy, Meg, or Father Tim.
These old-fashioned friends of mine are lovely because I can come to them using just one sense: my eyes. When my introverted nature feels over-stimulated by our modern world, I regain my sense of equilibrium when I can just squirrel myself away and read. I get transported to a place and time where there are no smartphones or pressures of Facebook, no surround sound or big-screen TVs, no crowds of loud talkers or expectations for witty conversation. I get to be an observer without being a creeper. Ha!
When I feel sort of blue, I need Anne. Anne’s cheeriness – especially once she moves beyond the escapades of her early years at Green Gables – is thoughtful and tempered with grace. She is empathetic and altogether delightful. Her optimism is not fake, and her depressions are real but not forever. Anne is a passionate and active person, and she is also a dreamer who can (and must!) sit idly on the porch steps for at least a few minutes, weaving her castles in the air.
Anne’s friendships are sweet and loyal, her love for people is palpable, and her love for Gilbert – once she realizes it! – is everything good. She has integrity and spunk, a most excellent combination. Anne’s relationships remind me to love, to see and delight in the best about the people in my life.
I need Anne when I am feeling blue for a deeper reason, too: Beauty helps me see clearly again, and L.M. Montgomery is a master of poetic prose. Although I am an urbanite, I think I learned something of love for nature from Anne.
“What a nice month this November has been!” said Anne, who had never quite got over her childish habit of talking to herself. “November is usually such a disagreeable month … as if the year had suddenly found out that she was growing old and could do nothing but weep and fret over it. This year is growing old gracefully … just like a stately old lady who knows she can be charming even with gray hair and wrinkles. We’ve had lovely days and delicious twilights. … How quiet the woods are today … not a murmur except that soft wind purring in the treetops! It sounds like surf on a faraway shore. How dear the woods are! You beautiful trees! I love every one of you as a friend.”
Anne paused to throw her arm about a slim young birch and kiss its cream white trunk. Diana, rounding a curve in the path, saw her and laughed.
~ Anne of Avonlea
When I read Anne, I become sweeter, more loving, and generally happier, “for the time being at least.” Beauty does that to my heart. The Anne books are not where to find deep and lasting joy, but they are a lovely aid for lifting my own imagination into the same hopeful faith in God’s goodness for daily life that Anne often displays. She is an inspiration to me, and she is an inspiration to this blog.
I want to add beauty to life, too. For a long, long time, I thought that knowledge was the only thing worth teaching – that Truth was only taught in a classroom setting.
Turns out, I was wrong.
Teaching Truth is good, and I hope to do some of that on this blog, but teaching Truth is often geared towards teaching our minds alone. This leads to the refrain I’ve heard regularly from myself and others: “I don’t know how to get the truth from my head to my heart.” Beauty is a heart teacher.
May my words on this blog always reflect the beauty that surrounds me, even on my melancholy days, even (and especially) in the classroom Truth. May we all have eyes to see, to let sunshine pierce the fog of mundane life and give us glimpses of the glory around us.