Saturday, February 17, 2007
If A book is a good friend, meet one of my new pals.
I've finished my second reading of Bede's Charity by Hesba Stretton. Sarah, whose blog is called Bend in the River, commented that her husband lovingly wondered how she could read the Anne of Green Gables books over and over again. My dear hubby has had similar ponderings. He reads a book once and then sends it on to a good home. I, on the other hand, adopt certain books as lifelong friends, and I love them even when they have cracks in their spines and wrinkles on their covers. I suppose I shall love them even more now that the same might be said of me!
I'm thinking that Bede's Charity might join my circle of friends. To be honest, this new friend has a few flaws. The story is maudlin and the writing is too syrupy, especially for today's reading tastes. But, I love the way the author conveys the simple, child-like faith of her main character, Margery Beade. I also love the way the book describes Victorian London, where extremes of poverty and extremes of wealth co-existed within a small sphere. The book has a lot to say about using our lives either to serve others or to consume as much as we can for ourselves. It also has a lot to say about being content within the circumstances God has planned for us.
This slim little volume manages to cover several decades of Margery's humble life within a surprizingly few chapters. Margery begins life as a farmer's daughter in a small village, but circumstances force her to move to London. As she experiences a string of heartaches and privations, she focuses not on herself, but on how she can help those who are suffering more than she is.
Everything that happens to Margery -- whether it be a severe trial or a great joy -- reminds her in some way of the Lord. For example, when helping her uncle keep house, she reflects, "If the Bible did no tell us that He was poor, I shold have known it from His own words. Who would have talked about putting new pieces upon old garments or about sweeping diligently, if he had not seen his mother doing it? So, whilst I was busy over these and a hundred household works like them, I knew that he knew exactly all about them, and that made them sweet to me."
So, if you'd like to read about Margery's adventures, check out "Beade's Charity."