February 28, 2009

Finding our Modern Day "Walden"

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I can to die, discover that I had not lived."

Although I can not escape to the woods permanently, I can still simplify my life and try to live day deliberately...

February's Title Swap

Project Organization - Marie Ricks (Deseret Book)
Amazing Grace - The DVD
It's All Too Much - Peter Walsch

February 3, 2009

The Home Feeling

“Do you know that being a stranger is the hardest thing that can happen to anyone in all this world?” This is what the Princess told Little Sister in the book, “Laddie” by Gene Stratton-Porter. The Princess, along with her mother and father, the Pryors, were the newcomers in town and they had a dark, family secret they tried to keep hidden from their neighbors.

Mr. Pryor was a man who felt betrayed by his own son. He was so overcome with grief and shame over what his son had been accused of doing that he forced his wife and daughter to leave their home in England . They moved to the United States and changed their last name hoping to forget their past, yet ever living a daily nightmare of untold anguish and disappointment. They don’t fit in very well and reject help from others. Mr. Pryor becomes especially bitter and hardened as he rejects God. Various members of the Stanton family especially notice their suffering and isolation and desire to help them carry their burden.

One day, the mother of the Stanton family, Ruth, gets her opportunity to have a heart to heart talk with Mr. Pryor. Ruth explains to Mr. Pryor how much she would like to help him carry his burden. She tells him that it doesn’t matter to her what the burden is, if he had betrayed his country, blasphemed against God or killed his own child, he could not stop her from caring about him and praying for him. Mr. Pryor doesn’t believe that Ruth (or anyone) could ever understand his trials. Ruth’s response is, “You’re in the position of a man doubly bereft. You are without a country, and without a God. Your face tells every passer-by how you are enjoying that kind of life.”

The author, Gene Stratton-Porter does a beautiful job of setting side by side the polar opposites of the Pryors’ bitterness and pain that leads to their isolation and loneliness and the Stantons ’ creation of the home feeling that invites inclusion and friendship.

Ruth talks to Mr. Pryor about her family life and why it matters so much to her. She and her husband, Paul, are partners with God in everything they do and build their lives on this solid foundation. She says, “Shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart, I’ve stood beside my man, and done what had to be done, to build this home, rear our children, save our property.” Together they raise twelve children whom they teach self-control, how to study, to work hard, to have joy of life and to be satisfied with what they had.

Ruth explains that they always focused their energies on striving to transform this land “into the dearest, the most beautiful, spot on earth.” In making their home the best they could, in improving their township, county and state, they are doing their share toward building up this nation. Ruth’s highest aspiration is to be a clean, thrifty housekeeper, a bountiful cook, a faithful wife, a sympathetic mother. “That is life work for any woman, and to be a good woman is the greatest thing on earth....to hold the respect and love of my husband is the greatest object of my life.”

I don’t think it was a coincidence that the author chose to give Mrs. Stanton the name of “Ruth” which means “compassion” and “pity.” Ruth is filled with goodness and concern for everyone she comes in contact with.

At the end of their discussion, Ruth sends Mr. Pryor away with some cuttings and roots to plant in his own yard. When her husband Paul came home that night she exclaimed, “Praise God, the wedge is in!...Once he begins planting, and watching things grow, the home feeling is bound to come. I tell you, Paul, the wedge is in! Oh, I’m so happy.”

And Ruth is right. The wedge is in; the healing has begun. And through some fateful events the Stantons and Pryors become family through the marriages of their children. Mr. Pryor is reconciled to his son, and his daughter, the Princess, asks her father to forgive her for having hard feelings against him. She exclaims, “Oh Daddy, do let’s forget, and begin all over new, like other people!” I have no doubt the Pryors are learning how to have the “home feeling” for themselves.