The sweet serenity of books

Darcy ventures forth!

Darcy ventures forth! Because even winners need a smile.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
~ Charles Dickens, 
A Tale of Two Cities

So this morning I sent out giveaway books: little treasures in the post for lucky winners. It’s a hopeful way to start a new week. I don’t know about you, but after the series of recent tragedies–Dallas, Nice, Turkey, Baton Rouge–I can use a dose of hopeful.

Lewis-braveknightsYet as a writer of light fiction, I puzzle over my contribution to the world. During the school year, my calling is clear: I change the world 20 – 30 teenagers at a time. But my summers are all about creating happy escapist stories. What good are those? Why has God called me to such a task?

Ah, but then I remember my Tolkien and my Lewis– friends, Christian brothers, and writing comrades. Men who lived through two world wars, an era that was just as dark and scary as our modern age.

Hopeful fiction, they remind me, has value, both to teach and to comfort.  There are times when we need to close the doors, curl up with a book, and escape the madness.

Photo: Mrhayata (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: Mrhayata (Creative Commons Flickr)

“I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used.

Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”
~J. R. R. Tolkien

There are lessons to be learned from stories.  Bright truths, embedded like gems, that ready us for harsh realities.

Longfellow

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
~ G. K. Chesterton

As we begin a new week, let’s slay some dragons. And when the wolves begin to howl, let’s bar the door and calm our anxious thoughts by reading.

Laura Hile (1)

3 thoughts on “The sweet serenity of books

  1. Gayle Mills

    For sure, the wolves are baying and clawing at the door of our sanity and security. Anything that snuffs out the noise for a while is a really good thing. We need moments of refreshing in order to face the fray again.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Laura Hile

      Sanity is a frail creature, once fear is allowed to gain a foothold.

      Part of fiction’s job is to show us how to confront fear.

      I am reminded of a scene from James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips, in which Professor Chipping, in a lower floor classroom, is at the helm during an an air raid. As explosions thunder, shaking the building, and shrapnel falls outside, he continues with his Latin class.

      “It may possibly seem to you, umph–that the affairs of Caesar in Gaul some two thousand years ago–are–umph–of somewhat secondary importance. But believe me–umph–my dear Robertson–that is not really the case.” Just then there came a particularly loud explosion–quite near. “You cannot–umph–judge the importance of things–umph–by the noise they make. Oh, dear me, no.

      … “Is there anyone who will volunteer to construe?”

      Maynard, chubby, dauntless, clever and impudent, said: “I will, sir!”

      “Very good. Turn to page forty and begin at the bottom line.”

      The explosions still continued deafeningly; the whole building shook. Maynard found the page, which was some way ahead, and began, shrilly: “Genus hoc erat pugnae–this was the kind of fight–quo se Germani exercuerant–in which the Germans busied themselves. Oh, sir, that’s good–that’s really very funny indeed, sir–one of your very best–”

      Laughing began, and Chips added: “Well–umph–you can see–now–that these dead languages–umph–can come to life again–sometimes–eh? Eh?”

      And now that I’ve unearthed this lovely book, dear Gayle, I will sign off and find a spot to read it all over again from the beginning…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Robin Helm

    I hope to provide some stress relief and an escape hatch for those who are bogged down in the problems that come with life. I also want to show the hope that I have been assured by my faith. Your work meets those objectives, Laura. It’s plain in your latest book that God is in control – and He has a sense of humor.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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