No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I think God has planted a love for stories in our hearts…the ones that capture us in books. The ones that breathe out of each of our lives…some we know intimately, and others we only get a glimpse of, making us long to know more…
She stood in the glow of crystal and chandeliers when a visiting friend and I first spotted her. A picture of elegance against the velvet-rich background of one of our town’s grandest old hotels. She was leaning against a wall, something about the look of her making me feel as if she’d just stepped out of one of those lovely, romantic 1940’s movies… and was waiting there for her black tie-and-tails boyfriend to tip the valet and return to their Cinderella night.
Auburn curls peeked out from under a softly flopping hat, framing one of the most beautiful faces I’d ever seen. Startlingly so – mostly because of the wondrous smile that lit her eyes. Like pure radiance, beaming at us in that moment as if we shared an unspoken secret and she was willing us to hug it to ourselves like treasure.
The fresh springtime of her dress…a sweet floral in soft yellows and rose — fit her like a dream. I’d been looking for a dress like that for a wedding I was going to… but oh, could I ever look like that even if I found one?
That’s when I saw. Eyes bright with a genuine content with life, she caught mine as I followed the crutch under her arm and looked down, saw her standing on one leg, the top of her amputated limb hidden beneath tea-length dress. A shiver ran over me as I took that in… a mixture of empathy, sadness for whatever sorrow had been in her life…and awe. For again, her eyes and smile met mine…strong and bright and true. And I read in them: Life is good. I’m happier at this moment than ever. There is a light stronger than any of us know…if we believe.
That was twenty years ago. I only saw her in that one sparkle-moment. But her sweet image stays in my mind and heart like a wonderful character in a cherished book… one I only got a glimpse of, but longed to know more of…in her story… And I often wonder, Lord, was that YOU I saw shining from her smile?
A good book can make me feel the same way that young woman did…enticing me in to the lives of characters who step off the pages and into my heart. Making me wish they were real…wondering how much of them lives in the author and who they are. And nothing can be more wonderful than sharing that kind of love for stories with a kindred word and book-lover… like my young friend Cait… as we did in this snippet from our conversation:
I know just what you mean! Those are the best kind – the characters who remind me of people I’ve known and loved in my life, or make me feel as if I know them or could be part of their stories. What are some of your favorite books, and what makes them your favorite?
Cait: I love a lot of classic books, like The Malones (Beany Malone series by Lenora Mattingly Weber) – and some of the more modern ones too. The latest series I’ve read, The Mysterious Benedict Society, is kind of an adventure-mystery mix. It’s very interesting.
What kind of book do you like to read most? Mysteries? Old-fashioned stories or historical settings? Books about girls a little older than you? New or older books? Something else?
Cait: I read ALL kinds of books! Some of my favorites are mysteries/adventures, or old-fashioned books. When we were little, Maggie and I always played “olden days” as we called it – specifically “Little Women” times!!
My sister and I used to do something like that too, only not just with books but also with acting out movies we loved. I was always director while she and our friends acted. 🙂 We always loved putting on plays with our friends.
If you could be in a play, what character would you like to play some time? Who is your favorite book, play or movie/television character?
Cait: Defintely Anne Shirley. Anne of Green Gables is one of my most favorite books/movies ever. We share our love of reading and speaking our minds (not to mention our red hair and freckles!) Or, I would love to play Jo, from Little Women. She’s such a fun, spunky girl. Plus, I’ve watched that movie a thousand times and it’s become one of my top picks!
I have to agree with that! Those are two of my all-time favorites too!
The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books ~ Katherine Mansfield
What’s your favorite book or story? Have you ever had a chance encounter with someone whose story you’d love to know?