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Everything I Need to Know About Life, I Learned From...


As in, Anne Shirley. Well, Anne Shirley Blythe, eventually.

I’ve been re-reading the “Anne” books, from whence comes the origin of the title of my blog. “Scope for Imagination” is what Anne looks for in everything.

The books, penned by L. M. Montgomery, tell of the adventures had and lessons learned by Anne Shirley, a starry-eyed, dreamy, imaginative orphan, who brings joy into the lives of those who get to know her. I like to think of Anne as the Original Drama Queen. Anne—spelled with an E, mind you—has quite a knack for getting herself into humorous scrapes.

She also has a beautiful outlook on life. Anne sees the world as being full of glorious possibilities. And because of this, she brightens the lives of those around her irrevocably. Not that she’s a saint. She has a temper, and a tendency to let her imagination get the best of her. She has “down” days, like the rest of us, and she makes some mistakes that make you want to reach through the pages and shake her by the shoulders.

But as the books go on, we really start to get a glimpse of Anne’s—and presumably Lucy Maude’s—theology. L. M. Montgomery married a minister (as does one of her characters), and lived in a time and place where Christianity was taken for granted. But theology was strict, stolid, and “reformed.” People talk about things being “wicked” all the time—and they mean things like not thinking sacred thoughts on Sundays, and saying "darn."

Into this, Anne brings a fresh perspective. She says of her Sunday School Superintendent that he doesn’t pray as though he though God was really listening. Her idea of praying is to go into a field somewhere and look up to the heavens. As she gets older, she has some interesting (and radical, especially at the time!) ideas about Heaven. While her peers imagine it to be mostly like an Eternal Church service, Anne is fairly certain that there will be laughter, fashion (though it won’t matter so much), and the changing of seasons.

I love Anne. I feel certain—and grow more convinced every time I read the books—that we would be friends if there was every the possibility of us meeting. It sounds silly, but if there are fictional characters in Heaven (and I can tell you, Anne would probably revel in the idea!) I mean to have a good long picnic with Anne. She is, though fictional, from another time and culture, a Kindred Spirit. When I read her stories, I realize just how “Anne-ish” I truly am.

Interestingly, one of the over-arching themes of the Anne books is the idea of Ideals, and how you sometimes have to let them go. Especially in regard to love. I have a sneaking suspicion that L. M. herself must have been swept off her feet unexpectedly by someone she never expected to have any interest in. This is of great significance to me at this point in my life. I’ve mentioned some of my ideals when it comes to romance and relationships, and it is as if Anne is gently reminding me that they are not all as important as I have made them out to be. Which is good, all things considered.

However, if I were to count up all the things that Anne has reminded me, or taught me, this post would be twice as long. I suppose (grudgingly) that it’s not the kind of book that everyone would enjoy. But I still recommend it—them; there are eight books—to everyone. And don’t be surprised if I sound a little...effusive in my next few posts. Anne always has that effect on me.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Ah, I love the Anne stories too. You make me laugh when you retell some of the things she goes through. She is a kindred spirit and I love her imagination and the way she looks at things too. Yes, quite often, you remind me of her!