Friday, August 18, 2006

Studying Shakespeare

I want to get to know this author. The story is told that when the early American pioneers headed West, they took only their most valuable belongings. That included books. Sometimes they would only have room for three: The Bible, The Pilgrim's Progress, and the Works of Shakespeare.

The Bible I have grown up studying. It is a never-ending source of joy and direction. Because it is the living word of God, it never grows old.

The Pilgrim's Progress was one of my favorite childhood adventure stories.

But Shakespeare? He's so hard to read! And when I do, I get bogged down in the dialogue and unfamiliar words. I have seen glimpses of beauty...but they are rare.

That is why I bought Peter Leithart's study guide, Brightest Heaven of Invention. With this in hand, I hope my appreciation of this playwright will increase by leaps and bounds. I get excited just flipping through the book, reading the Christian commentary and anticipating the different writing projects I'll try.

I think I'll start with the Taming of the Shrew. That's a compelling story that I think has some valuable lessons about true femininity imbedded in it.

Have any of my readers "gone before" me on this journey? Do you have any tips or resources to share? Please do!

A Day with Old Friends

Sometimes it’s nice to spend a few hours in nostalgia, to remember old friends and relive the adventures we had together. Pulling out my old grade school notebook the other day, I did just that. I’ve always been a list person; perhaps that’s why I didn’t find it strange to find the tattered sheets filled with the names every single friend and acquaintance I made during those years.

There was Lucy….what wonderful hours we spent together! We haven’t spoken in years, yet I still remember vividly her wild imagination and her love of beautiful things. She introduced me to the poems of Tennyson and great books like Ivanhoe and Ben Hur.

Then there was Carolyn. She was an odd duck! I never quite knew whether to believe her fantastic tales or not. According to her, she had been to nearly every country in the world, with hair-raising escapes at every turn. She had an inquiring mind with extraordinary attention to detail that I loved to imitate.

The memory is a strange thing. Some names seem totally unfamiliar, nary a face or a word recalled in my mind. But others remain clear, the remembrance of our first meeting always green. How could I forget Beatrix and her pets, Marguerite and her love of history, or Robert and his wonderful drawings? These are friends I hold dear; friends I still visit to relive old times.

Meeting old friends isn’t always pleasant. Sometimes, as we grow up, we also grow apart. I remember Franklin. When I was young, he and his group of young friends were my heroes. The independent, adventurous lives they lived were glamorous. But they were also shallow. Our last meeting was bittersweet.

Looking back on my childhood, I see how each one of my friends influenced me. Not all the influences were good. It has taken me years to begin eradicating the errors that some taught me. It may have been unintentional, that passing on of one of the pernicious philosophies of our century, feminism. But the damage was done. I grew up holding conflicting dreams, on the one hand aspiring to be feminine, to one day be a mother, on the other, admiring the self-sufficiency of the independent, rebellious, self-made woman. I realize now the importance of choosing wise friends, ones who will lead me toward Christ and not away from Him.

I spent the rest of the day getting reacquainted with Melody. I was pleased to find, after looking her up, that she was still nearby. A pleasant girl, one who has overcome many hardships, she told me again the beautiful story of her family, and of awakening love. It was late before she finished, and I fell asleep with a smile on my face, thankful to God for the many blessing that He has given me through my friends—books.