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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » Not much of a Landmark, but one just the same

   
Author Topic: Not much of a Landmark, but one just the same
jeniwren
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I don't have anything to say about my life, really, except to share my two favorite passages in books. Thanksfully, they are well out of copyright and I can exerpt them in their entirety.

From Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery, chapter 14 "The Summons" Anne's childhood friend, frivolous Ruby Gillis lies dying of consumption. She's denied the truth for some time. Anne has come for a visit when Ruby begins to tell the truth.

quote:
"I don't want to die. I'm afraid to die."

"Why should you be afraid, Ruby?" asked Anne quietly.

"Because -- because -- oh, I'm not afraid but that I'll go to heaven, Anne. I'm a church member. But -- it'll be all so different. I think -- and think -- and I get so frightened -- and -- and -- homesick. Heaven must be very beautiful, of course, the Bible says so -- but, Anne, it won't be what I've been used to."

Through Anne's mind drifted an intrusive recollection of a funny story she had heard Philippa Gordon tell -- the story of some old man who had said very much the same thing about the world to come. It had sounded funny then -- she remembered how she and Priscilla had laughed over it. But it did not seem in the least humorous now, coming from Ruby's pale, trembling lips. It was sad, tragic -- and true! Heaven could not be what Ruby had been used to. There had been nothing in her gay, frivolous life, her shallow ideals and aspirations, to fit her for that great change, or make the life to come seem to her anything but alien and unreal and undesirable. Anne wondered helplessly what she could say that would help her. Could she say anything?

"I think, Ruby," she began hesitatingly -- for it was difficult for Anne to speak to any one of the deepest thoughts of her heart, or the new ideas that had vaguely begun to shape themselves in her mind, concerning the great mysteries of life here and hereafter, superseding her old childish conceptions, and it was hardest of all to speak of them to such as Ruby Gillis -- "I think, perhaps, we have very mistaken ideas about heaven -- what it is and what it holds for us. I don't think it can be so very different from life here as most people seem to think. I believe we'll just go on living, a good deal as we live here -- and be ourselves just the same -- only it will be easier to be good and to -- follow the highest. All the hindrances and perplexities will be taken away, and we shall see clearly. Don't be afraid, Ruby."

"I can't help it," said Ruby pitifully. "Even if what you say about heaven is true -- and you can't be sure -- it may be only that imagination of yours -- it won't be just the same. It can't be. I want to go on living here. I'm so young, Anne. I haven't had my life. I've fought so hard to live -- and it isn't any use -- I have to die -- and leave everything I care for."

Anne sat in a pain that was almost intolerable. She could not tell comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly true. She was leaving everything she cared for. She had laid up her treasures on earth only; she had lived solely for the little things of life -- the things that pass -- forgetting the great things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between the two lives and making of death a mere passing from one dwelling to the other -- from twilight to unclouded day. God would take care of her there -- Anne believed -- she would learn -- but now it was no wonder her soul clung, in blind helplessness, to the only things she knew and loved.

and the second comes from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, after Lydia has run away with Mr. Wickham, which wouldn't have happened if her father had heeded Lizzy's warnings. Mr. Bennet has just returned from London to Longbourn.

quote:
When Mr. Bennet arrived, he had all the appearance of his usual philosophic composure. He said as little as he had ever been in the habit of saying; made no mention of the business that had taken him away, and it was some time before his daughters had courage to speak of it.

It was not till the afternoon, when he joined them at tea, that Elizabeth ventured to introduce the subject; and then, on her briefly expressing her sorrow for what he must have endured, he replied, ``Say nothing of that. Who would suffer but myself? It has been my own doing, and I ought to feel it.''

``You must not be too severe upon yourself,'' replied Elizabeth.

``You may well warn me against such an evil. Human nature is so prone to fall into it! No, Lizzy, let me once in my life feel how much I have been to blame. I am not afraid of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough.''

I wish I were good enough to have a signature scripture, one that I try to dwell in and live, but I really don't. These two passages are it, specifically the parts I've enboldened.

Truthfully, I would hate to die, and find it nearly impossible to finish my will. I'm stuck at trying to decide where I want my children to go if something should happen to both my husband and I. And there's the difficulty of my son's situation if I should die but not my husband. I want him to be raised with his sister. But that's not really the point. I guess the point is that it's hard not to cling to this world with both hands, even when this world sucks. It feels like the only game in town, but really, I know it's not. I don't want to leave, even for a place that promises no more tears or pain.

And I find Mr. Bennet's statement very true too, that too quickly the sting of wrong doing goes away and I smooth it over with excuses or just let enough time go by to sooth the irritation of guilt.

But the most important part of both of these passages is that though there is deep pain in them both, they are viewed through the eyes of love, that no person who is loved is wholly bad, and no person who is loved goes away from earth without being missed.

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T_Smith
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Happy 5000th, Jeniwren.

I personally fear death, only because I fear the general concept of heaven, that it is eternity. For whatever, reason, that worries me in this mortal state that I am in. Death is, though, I suppose.

Again, happy 5000th.

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beverly
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quote:
But the most important part of both of these passages is that though there is deep pain in them both, they are viewed through the eyes of love, that no person who is loved is wholly bad, and no person who is loved goes away from earth without being missed.
I found this to be a profound statement--worthy of contemplation. Do we somehow grace others in the act of loving them? There is no doubt in my mind that love is crucial, something we need to have towards all people--inasmuch as we are capable. When we truly love others, we have their best interest at heart and our words and acts help to guide them in the best paths.
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ketchupqueen
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I love Anne of the Island. I'm a hopeless romantic.

And I think "Anne's" most important quality was her ability to love despite all odds and opposition. [Smile]

I was named after her (at least in part.) I'm told I have somewhat of the same gift. I don't see it. [Wink]

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jeniwren
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[Smile] Thank you Nathan. I have really tried hard to imagine Heaven as I understand it from the scriptures and I can't do it. An eternity without pain or tears? So much of what makes us good, I think, is born out of pain. So what makes us good in Heaven?

Thank you, bev. I do think that no matter how bad a person is, if someone truly loves them, there must be something, a tiny something maybe, or a great something hopefully, that is beautiful, lovely, honorable and true in them. And that, like a seed, it can grow and reach for the sky bearing magnificent fruit, or it can be buried deeper so that nothing of it comes to light.

kq, I figure I must be a hopeless romantic and I've always wanted to be Anne when I grow up. [Smile] I think you're right about her most important quality. And I think that she didn't see that in herself until she was much older, if ever. She always had a humility I really liked.

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jeniwren
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Okay, just to prove that though I really like serious topics that bring tears to the eyes, I have not quite made myself into a person incapable of laughing at herself. I have a third favorite passage of a book, which is also not in copyright any longer. I love this entire scene because it is so much something I could see myself doing. Well, not to the point of seeing my doctor, but pretty close.

Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat:

quote:
I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment for some slight ailment of which I had a touch - hay fever, I fancy it was. I got down the book, and read all I came to read; and then, in an unthinking moment, I idly turned the leaves, and began to indolently study diseases, generally. I forget which was the first distemper I plunged into - some fearful, devastating scourge, I know - and, before I had glanced half down the list of "premonitory symptoms," it was borne in upon me that I had fairly got it.

I sat for awhile, frozen with horror; and then, in the listlessness of despair, I again turned over the pages. I came to typhoid fever - read the symptoms - discovered that I had typhoid fever, must have had it for months without knowing it - wondered what else I had got; turned up St. Vitus's Dance - found, as I expected, that I had that too, - began to get interested in my case, and determined to sift it to the bottom, and so started alphabetically - read up ague, and learnt that I was sickening for it, and that the acute stage would commence in about another fortnight. Bright's disease, I was relieved to find, I had only in a modified form, and, so far as that was concerned, I might live for years. Cholera I had, with severe complications; and diphtheria I seemed to have been born with. I plodded conscientiously through the twenty-six letters, and the only malady I could conclude I had not got was housemaid's knee.

I felt rather hurt about this at first; it seemed somehow to be a sort of slight. Why hadn't I got housemaid's knee? Why this invidious reservation? After a while, however, less grasping feelings prevailed. I reflected that I had every other known malady in the pharmacology, and I grew less selfish, and determined to do without housemaid's knee. Gout, in its most malignant stage, it would appear, had seized me without my being aware of it; and zymosis I had evidently been suffering with from boyhood. There were no more diseases after zymosis, so I concluded there was nothing else the matter with me.

I sat and pondered. I thought what an interesting case I must be from a medical point of view, what an acquisition I should be to a class! Students would have no need to "walk the hospitals," if they had me. I was a hospital in myself. All they need do would be to walk round me, and, after that, take their diploma.

Then I wondered how long I had to live. I tried to examine myself. I felt my pulse. I could not at first feel any pulse at all. Then, all of a sudden, it seemed to start off. I pulled out my watch and timed it. I made it a hundred and forty-seven to the minute. I tried to feel my heart. I could not feel my heart. It had stopped beating. I have since been induced to come to the opinion that it must have been there all the time, and must have been beating, but I cannot account for it. I patted myself all over my front, from what I call my waist up to my head, and I went a bit round each side, and a little way up the back. But I could not feel or hear anything. I tried to look at my tongue. I stuck it out as far as ever it would go, and I shut one eye, and tried to examine it with the other. I could only see the tip, and the only thing that I could gain from that was to feel more certain than before that I had scarlet fever.

I had walked into that reading-room a happy, healthy man. I crawled out a decrepit wreck.

I went to my medical man. He is an old chum of mine, and feels my pulse, and looks at my tongue, and talks about the weather, all for nothing, when I fancy I'm ill; so I thought I would do him a good turn by going to him now. "What a doctor wants," I said, "is practice. He shall have me. He will get more practice out of me than out of seventeen hundred of your ordinary, commonplace patients, with only one or two diseases each." So I went straight up and saw him, and he said:

"Well, what's the matter with you?"

I said:
"I will not take up your time, dear boy, with telling you what is the matter with me. Life is brief, and you might pass away before I had finished. But I will tell you what is not the matter with me. I have not got housemaid's knee. Why I have not got housemaid's knee, I cannot tell you; but the fact remains that I have not got it. Everything else, however, I have got."

And I told him how I came to discover it all.

Then he opened me and looked down me, and clutched hold of my wrist, and then he hit me over the chest when I wasn't expecting it - a cowardly thing to do, I call it - and immediately afterwards butted me with the side of his head. After that, he sat down and wrote out a prescription, and folded it up and gave it me, and I put it in my pocket and went out.

I did not open it. I took it to the nearest chemist's, and handed it in. The man read it, and then handed it back.

He said he didn't keep it.

I said:
"You are a chemist?"

He said:
"I am a chemist. If I was a co-operative stores and family hotel combined, I might be able to oblige you. Being only a chemist hampers me."

I read the prescription. It ran:

"1 lb. beefsteak, with
1 pt. bitter beer
every 6 hours.
1 ten-mile walk every morning.
1 bed at 11 sharp every night.

And don't stuff up your head with things you don't understand."

I followed the directions, with the happy result - speaking for myself - that my life was preserved, and is still going on.


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Miriya
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I'm also an big Anne fan (my daughter is named Anne) and I've always liked that particular passage as well.

The third passage is an interesting contrast and brought a smile to my day.

Thanks.

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Shan
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quote:
Originally posted by jeniwren:
[Smile] I do think that no matter how bad a person is, if someone truly loves them, there must be something, a tiny something maybe, or a great something hopefully, that is beautiful, lovely, honorable and true in them. And that, like a seed, it can grow and reach for the sky bearing magnificent fruit, or it can be buried deeper so that nothing of it comes to light.

Well, that made me cry. And will make me think, and think, and think again, about how I treat those I treasure, and those I would just rather pass by, and those I treat (sadly) with scorn. And it will also make me think about those that keep insisting that they see that "lovely, honorable, true seed" that I just can't see myself . . .

You have a beautiful soul, jeniwren. Thanks for being here and being you -

[Smile]

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jeniwren
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*bump*

:blush: Shan. Thank you. That means more than you know. FWIW, I definitely don't treat the ones I love like I see their core beauty all the time. Or even most of the time. Trying to get better, though.

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Jim-Me
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Hi Jeni...

lovely thoughts and and happy 5000th [Smile]

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katharina
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Jeniwren, you picked passages from two of my favorite books. I love this thread. [Smile]
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jeniwren
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Thanks Jim. [Smile]

kat, which two are they? Do you have favorite passages from them that are different than the ones I picked?

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katharina
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Anne of the Island, and Pride and Prejudice.

I don't have either with me, and I love all the Austen and Anne books so my favorite parts are all jumbled up.

I know that the proposal scene in Anne of the Island was read so many times the pages fell out of my book. Also, I have a lot of sympathy for Anne and her relationship with Roy.

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ketchupqueen
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Katie, I had three copies of that book fall apart! I mean, the first two were iffy to begin with because they were hand-me-downs from my sister, but the third one I did all on my own. [Big Grin]
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LadyDove
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jeniwren-

Congrats on your landmark. I love the Anne and Austin books too. I'd literally lose myself for hours in them. I'd sit down to read, then look up, hours later, and not know quite where I was.

I think that it is important to have strong protagonists to mentor us. I don't know if we seek out these books because they give us a glimpse of who we want to be or if we choose who we want to be while falling in love with the characters. In either case, we are shaped by the experience.

I have always enjoyed your thoughts. Thank you sharing the last passage as well. It made me laugh.

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Dragon
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[Smile]

those are great passages.

congrats on your 5000th post, and here's to many, many more!

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jeniwren
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kat, it's been driving me halfcrazy, but I don't have my books either...they're all packed in boxes in the garage. I had to look these passages up online. It's amazing what great literature is online. Though I totally agree with OSC that it's not the way to read a book. I love my laptop, but I would never curl up with it by the fire and read it. I want to touch pages and smell paper and ink.

I always felt for Anne and her relationship with Roy too. It's hard not to know your own mind, and then discover abruptly that what you thought you thought or felt was actually just a mask to hide what you really think or feel. I hurt a really nice man that way once and still remember the terrible feeling of realizing what I'd done.

Does anyone know if the new Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley is out yet? I wanted to go see it, and thought it was coming out at the end of September, but haven't seen it listed in theaters at all.

(((LadyDove))) Thank you. I really appreciate your words.

((Dragon)) I have kitten pictures all over the place from your book you sent me for Christmas last year. My daughter loves that book.

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Olivet
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I have to say this is one of the most enjoyable Landmarks I have ever read! Thank you for sharing those delightful passages. *hug*
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jeniwren
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[Smile] Thanks Olivet!
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