The Race that Knows Joseph -Or, Meeting Kindred Spirits Abroad and Other Book Thoughts
“Have you read Lucy Maud Montgomery?” It was my first day in France and my travel-numbed brain took a moment to place even that familiar name.
“Oh yes!” I exclaimed, after a moment of foggy thought. Beth, my new friend from Ireland, turned from the medieval street we were walking up.
“Ohhhhh, what’s your favorite book? Have you read the Emily series?”
Soon we were discussing our favorites and Emily versus Anne. She’s read The Storygirl. I haven’t finished it. She loves Blue Castle -which has been on my list, but hasn’t read Jane of Lantern Hill.
We were in book lover’s heaven. Ironically, that evening we were invited over to another missionary family’s house to watch -you guessed it- Anne of Green Gables. (And yes, it was the original with Megan Follows as Anne.)
In true Anne of Green Gables fashion, I quickly discovered Beth was a kindred spirit. (Or, since we’ve both read Anne’s House of Dreams -“the race that knows Joseph.” We have a ton in common -the oldest daughter in big families, homeschooled, Christian, book lovers, and so on. (It’s rare to find someone who loves poetry and likes to randomly quote it/hear it quoted!)
As I adjust to a new area and surroundings, I love making connections with new people. From childhoods in the Midwest, to big family life, the American church to living cross-culturally. And, because I’m a book lover, books.
“I like humor . . . P. G. Wodehouse.” Vikki, an English language student, was making her tea and had just told me she likes reading. I think my eyes bugged out when she mentioned Wodehouse. I love Wodehouse -to use an Anne Shirley phrase- with an abiding passion.
Soon Vikki and I were laughing over Lord Emsworth and Wodehouse’s descriptive ability with turns of phrase.
On the plane, as I headed to England yesterday, my Kindle was balanced on my lap.
“What are you reading?” -Asked the young man next to me. (Does anyone realize the danger of asking this question to a booklover? Do they notice the maniacal gleam that enters the eye . . . The mental battle to NOT geek out despite the fact someone other than yourself has introduced the topic of books and reading.)
To my delight, I was sitting next to a fellow reader with some shared interests. Soon we were discussing fantasy, series, book-to-movie adaptions, To Kill a Mockingbird (I love) and The Great Gatsby (one of his favorites).
It’s so much fun to be a book lover abroad. Traveling and new experiences are colored by books. I took a train yesterday, puffing through small stations in the English countryside, and suddenly I was back on a hill with Three Chimneys behind me, watching the train snake through the valley below with the Railway Children and christening it the green dragon.
I walk the balcony in my new dorm, with its dangerously low parapet, and Eugenides walks next to me, balancing drunkenly and tempting the gods. Or the girl from The White Feather, stands there laughing till she is talked down.
Books are my way of making connections to places and people. They’re a way of starting a conversation, and opening the way for a deeper discussion of the Book.
As I prepared for spring break, I was praying God would give me an opportunity to share the gospel with someone I met traveling. From discussing books, faith came up in the conversation yesterday. Again, introduced by my fellow passenger. . . I’d mentioned church and helping a missionary family. Suddenly I was getting curious questions from an Atheist. And I was able to bring the questions back to the Bible and share about the ultimate book.
Pray for the conversation with J, that some of the words and seeds of truth I shared will settle down and bear fruit in time.
I will, of course, keep you posted with future adventures, probably somehow linked to books!
Your Redeemed Reader abroad,