Thursday, December 31, 2015

A City of Bells

There are rare nights when I cannot sleep. I close my book, wrap up my chocolate bar, click off the light. A few quick minutes later my mind obediently drifts into sleep. A half hour more, and I wake again, alert, thinking, and unable to sleep. They say it's best at that point to get up and do something.

I'm reading a book. A City of Bells by Elizabeth Goudge has been recommended to me for years, and Adam bought it as a Christmas gift. Bless his heart – I knew her books were hard to find. The used copies he located were in terrible shape, so he bought a new one from a very small printing and it cost a fortune (in my opinion) for a new book. Well, I'm enjoying it.
That's my latest weaving project underneath the book.
Here's what Goudge says about thinking. Rather, here's what one of her characters says, but he's a wise old gentleman, so I suppose we may attribute the words to the author. “That's right, dear boy, that's right. But mind you do think. Don't just take out your feelings and look at them, which is what passes for thought with most of us pitiful, self-centered creatures. Look at the question from everyone's point of view …” (84). I like that! How often we call ourselves thinking something out, when really all we're doing is rehashing our worn emotions regarding the matter. We wear ourselves out, getting no closer to any understanding of it. We refuse to see it from others' perspectives for fear of not being true to ourselves.

I'm not that far into the book and I've found a good quote about joy. In the middle of a sorrowful situation, the same wise old gentleman admonishes us to pray and make inquiries, “… and that was all they could do .... In this beautiful world that God had made joy was a duty” (49). What a strange idea! We think joy, like love, is a spontaneous breeze that blows and disappears on its own inexplicable whim. Joy, a duty! The quote from my blog banner expresses a similar sentiment. Joy is something you can look for, find, and choose. It's up to you.

The ruminations of another character present us with yet another interesting idea, a morsel. “His bent of mind was a scholarly one and his outlook on life that of an artist. Regulations had irked him, and red tape, and that life of routine that so often stifles imagination” (27).

Now there's something folks disagree on! Ask Anthony Trollope, who rose quite early each morning, spent a set amount of time for writing novels, and then began his day and went to work. He was quite regimented, quite artistic, quite prolific. Some argue that routine is the very life-blood of creativity. They scoff at the excuse-makers (like myself) who put off their art, waiting for the illusive muse to descend. I'm not sure which position to take on this and am inclined to think that different people create differently. Clearly Goudge's young man in this book is a waiter of muses.

I find Goudge's books to be long and luxurious like a good meal or a soaking bath. They are best consumed in small bites and savored. She does nothing in a hurry, and her settings, plots, characters, and conflicts are thoroughly presented and fleshed out. Her books stay real to me for years and with a flitting thought of them, suddenly I'm back in them, back in the place and the feel of the book. That's a gift.

It's now after midnight. I finished my fourth weaving project today, went to town with Adam and saw the new Star Wars movie, and ate at Chipotle. We are still quite damp, mucky, and nearly flooded around here. The ground is saturated. More rain is forecast for tomorrow, but after that we hope for an extended dry spell. It's too wet to walk in the field. How the wheat and greens are surviving is a mystery.


  1. Ah,yes. Elizabeth Goudge is on my wish list. Fortunately for me, I rather like old, tattered copies. But I'm so glad that your Adam found you such a nice copy. You are thoroughly enjoying it. :) That latest weaving project looks complex. You're learning very quickly! Happy New Year! (I'll be in bed by 9. Gotta work early tomorrow.)

  2. What a dear (in more sense than one) present - so thoughtful. Thank you for sharing the stimulating quotes; that is a book by EG that I haven't read.

    Happy New Year, Dear Friend!

  3. That sounds like a wonderful book! I need to see if there are any of her writings at the library.

    Happy weaving and reading this first day of 2016.


  4. What a lovely backdrop for your new book! It's exciting to see what you're creating with those nimble hands of yours. The book, I've not read, but I love many of EG's books. Which reminds me, I ought to pull out one of mine and re-read. You are right, her writing is much like a luxurious meal or long soaking bath.

    Happy New Year!

  5. Sounds like a wonderful book...oops, just saw I'm copying Rainy but it does sound like a wonderful book. So many people don't turn off the noise and listen to their thoughts, God or even the silence and because of that I find most people tiresome.
    Your weaving is fabulous and greatly impressive.


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