As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, The Beauty of Anne, one of the book series I’ve read more times than I can possibly count is the Anne of Green Gables series. Most people I know have read the first, and maybe the second one, but not everyone knows that there are 8 in the series, each one better than the last. Almost as much as Anne herself, I love the 8th book about her daughter Rilla, who is a charming, sparkling, slightly self-focused young girl who learns maturity and grace through the first world war.
One of my favourite quotes about Rilla is at the beginning of the book, where Anne is catching up with a friend. “Mrs. Blythe and her visitor were chatting together near the open door that led to the veranda, through which a cool, delicious breeze was blowing, bringing whiffs of phantom perfume from the garden, and charming gay echoes from the vine-hung corner where Rilla and Miss Oliver and Walter were laughing and talking. Wherever Rilla Blythe was, there was laughter.” I love that description, and have often wished that would be one of my descriptors. It’s a beautiful thing to be someone who is not only full of laughter yourself, but to bring that laughter out in others – good, refreshing, joyful laughter. Not the kind that tears down, or mocks, or brings hurt. I’ve learned by painful experience that as witty as I feel being sarcastic or clever, there is always a hurt factor that bruises the laughter, and diminishes the joy. A truly joyful heart brings the kind of laughter that is, like wisdom, “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (St James)
Later in Rilla, when the challenges and pains of war have worked on her, Anne reflects on their effect on all of them. “We must keep a little laughter, girls,” said Mrs. Blythe. “A good laugh is as good as a prayer sometimes–only sometimes,” she added under her breath. She had found it very hard to laugh during the three weeks she had just lived through–she, Anne Blythe, to whom laughter had always come so easily and freshly. And what hurt most was that Rilla’s laughter had grown so rare–Rilla whom she used to think laughed over-much.”
When Rilla’s brother goes to the front, he writes back to her about her laughter. “Is there laughter in your face yet, Rilla? I hope so. The world will need laughter and courage more than ever in the years that will come next. I don’t want to preach; this isn’t any time for it. But I just want to say something that may help you over the worst when you hear that I’ve gone ‘west.’ I’ve a premonition about you, Rilla, as well as about myself. I think there are long years of happiness for you by-and-by. And you will tell your children of the Idea we fought and died forteach them it must be lived for as well as died for, else the price paid for it will have been given for nought. This will be part of your work, Rilla.”
That is part of our work, too.