“Your picture of social triumphs is quite fascinating, Phil, but I’ll paint one to off-set it. I’m going home to an old country farmhouse, once green, rather faded now, set among leafless apple orchards. There is a brook below. and a December fir wood beyond, where I’ve heard harps swept by the fingers of rain and wind. There is a pond near by that will be gray and brooding now. There will be two oldish ladies in the house, one tall and thin, one short and fat; and there will be two twins, one a perfect model, the other what Mrs. Lynde calls a ‘holy terror.’ There will be a little room up-stairs over the porch, where old dreams hang thick, and a big, fat, glorious feather bed which will almost seem the height of luxury after a boarding-house mattress. How do you like my picture, Phil?”
“It seems a very dull one,” said Phil, with a grimace.
“Oh, but I’ve left out the transforming thing,” said Anne softly. “There’ll be love there, Phil — faithful, tender love, such as I’ll never find anywhere else in the world — love that’s waiting for me. That makes my picture a masterpiece, doesn’t it, even if the colours are not very brilliant?”
– Anne of the Island, Lucy M. Montgomery
And so after weeping/laughing myself to sleep for many nights in a row, curled up with the likes of Anne Shirley and the March sisters, I think I’ve caught a glimpse of why my childhood books are always one of the first things I want to hide under a huge duvet and read until 3am when I’m terribly upset or disturbed by emo angst. Because when I am worn down by sin, dulled and desensitized by hollow laughter, lured by pretense and frivolity and icing, feeling (falsely) far from God, these dusty and well-loved pages show me quite plainly what pure love is, and from where it comes.
So it makes sense that it’s seen as jarring, or unthinkably unsophisticated, or stupidly mushy, or grossly un-intellectual. It makes sense that these books are always mentally shelved as belonging to one’s childhood, and therefore perhaps childish… because it’s so unlike what you see or feel out here, anywhere.
I remember at one point of time lots of people were saying how the word love was being thrown around and tossed mercilessly like some accessory. People would scorn the poor people who dared to declare “I love pancakes!!” and take it upon themselves to give a lecture about the sanctity of love. But why bother with semantics?
Imagine someone whose faith could move literal, sheer mountains. Or someone who could prophesy all the great and terrible things to come in God’s name. Someone who has dedicated his entire life to attending to the poor. I remember how awed and (slightly) envious I used to be when I’d hear of people’s supernatural gifts and experiences, and their mind-blowing testimonies. Praise God for those, but what’s absolutely amazing is this: Love is far better than all of those. It is the greatest, and all those count for zero without love. See 1 Corinthians 13 🙂 Amen.
I guess my point (if I do actually have one) is that although I sometimes struggle to cling fast to this and not only believe unwaveringly in something the world laughs at but also act it out, I have (and you have) the all-powerful love of the One who is love Himself 🙂