—Lines from Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
❝ It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside—but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond—only a glimpse—and heard a note of unearthly music.
This moment came rarely—went swiftly, leaving her breathless with the inexpressible delight of it. She could never recall it—never summon it—never pretend it; but the wonder of it stayed with her for days. It never came twice with the same thing. Tonight the dark boughs against that far-off sky had given it. It had come with a high, wild note of wind in the night, with a shadow wave over a ripe field, with a grey bird lighting on her windowsill in a storm, with the singing of "Holy, holy, holy" in church, with a glimpse of the kitchen fire when she had come home on a dark autumn night, with the spirit-like blue of ice palms on a twilit pane, with a felicitous new word when she was writing down a 'description' of something. And always when the flash came to her Emily felt that life was a wonderful, mysterious thing of persistent beauty. ❞ p. 7 - 8
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Sigh...it's one of my favourite passages from a delightful novel I read in my youth. For me, lines like these stand out as markers—transformative, defining moments when I came to recognize and could admit to myself that Beauty was, and remains, the most inspirational and motivating force in the world. If I could find the 'beauty', however tiny, in the midst of any given situation, I knew I would be okay. Up until that point in my youthful life, I think I had the notion that life was hard, and happy moments were just that...fleeting glimpses in a sea of hard knocks, life to be endured, with a small faith and joy where it could be snatched for companionship, at the whim of moods and emotions—my own and those of others. I longed for a glimpse of the Divine in my life.
It was Lucy Maud Montgomery who gave me the courage to see something different. Her storybooks and published journals gave me something to hope for, that people could find a path that had beauty and joy sitting right in the middle of the hard or sad - much the way we see the proverbial dandelion living large as life from a fracture in a sidewalk. I don't know about you, but I always smile to see such a picture—where Beauty has found a way to peek through and to survive—oh, let me take hold when it does.
I'll never forget that summer evening long ago when I sat on the back step entranced as twilight fell on our neighbourhood after a beautiful day. A notebook in my lap and pen in my hand, my heart dearly wishing I could emulate Lucy Maud's splendid way of writing as I yearned to describe the marvel of that evening.
How did Miss Montgomery find the right words? How did she make them float like bubbles on the breeze? How did she choose the perfect words that allowed me, her reader, to see what she saw and experienced? How can I write like that?
I started bumping into advice that became an answer. For example, C.S. Lewis sent this advice to aspiring young writers who wrote to him: 'read all the good books you can' . . . Ray Bradbury who in his early career said he used to 'live in the library' . . . Annie Proulx who wrote, 'writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write' . . . and Steven King who advises, 'If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.'
It's true, I have since discovered for myself it is the greatest advice. Through reading I have opened the door to discovering not only new ideas and historical contexts, but the art of language, expanding my vocabulary and becoming familiar with the fine nuances of words as I learn the art of cherry picking the one phrase that conveys it with (kissed) perfection.
I'm so grateful for writers like Lucy Maud Montgomery who continue to lift up my heart through their beautiful writing. Nothing invigorates me like reading someone else's well chosen words. I am inspired to get on with living life as beautifully as I can. I become energized to create work that expresses my own wonderment at all that is still lovely in a broken world. And when I get to share it here with you, I am flooded with a joy that leaves me content.
NB. In case you're interested, here is an article I enjoyed and hope you might as well, entitled Writers on Reading.
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My wish for you this week....Mercies new every morning, grace that's sufficient for whatever you face, joy to strengthen in the midst, and peace that keeps your heart steady in the eye of the storm. Oh, and a generous dollop of plain old fun to make you laugh out loud.
With love and heart hugs,
(Top)Photo by Alicja from Pixabay
PS. I have since written a Guest Post elsewhere that companions
this post; if interested, you'll find the post HERE.