Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre courtesy of Postertext on Etsy

I read a book the other day that touched upon literary society in England in the early 19th century.  It was chock a block full of insights into the writers that 7th grade teachers do their utmost to make dull. Peer through a window and we see Dickens slowly killing himself as he performs the murder of Nancy from Oliver Twist in front of thousands of hungry audiences night after night after terror filled night. (Bill Sikes, I hate you.) His son waited off stage each evening waiting to carry him away in the likely event he fell dead right before the plunging the knife into lovely, little Nan. Sitting by the fire is Marian Evans before she was George Eliot, before she wrote Middlemarch, a woman cast out of society because of forbidden love. Even after she became all she would become, the women that read her books would not have her to dinner. And there just in the corner, where the shadow meets the light is the lovely Charlotte Bronte.

Oh, Charlotte.

A plain sort of girl filled with a beautiful complexity. She grew up in a rural place writing mediocre tales about lands that did not exist. She attempted to make a life in the avenues acceptable for a woman. There was the governessing (horrid masters), the teaching (horrid schools), the boarding school owning (no one came). So in the parlor at night, while the wind howled and her father dozed, she and her sisters wrote. They wrote about the world that surrounded them, their disappointments and hopes. They wrote about the things that rattled inside them since birth and the things they had learned in their years of dark rooms and light laughter. Pages and pages, reading bits and pieces to each other here and there. After fingers stained blue with ink and miles walked to the stationers shop, each sister had something worth sending off to publishing houses in a city they had never seen. Anne sent Agnes Grey, Emily sent Wuthering Heights and Charlotte sent The Professor.

The manuscripts went off together in a brown wrapped parcel. Each time the manuscripts were rejected the parcel came back, the brown paper creased and cracking. Our heroines were nothing if not practical. Rather than rewrapping the books they would simply cross off the rejecting publishers name and write down another one. Soon the package was striped in ink from one side to the other. And then. And then a publisher accepted both Agnes Grey and Wuthering Heights. They were, the house conceded, good sorts of books.

Charlotte sent off her Professor on one last lonely journey.

A few months later came a reply, "No, Miss Bronte, we are not interested in publishing The Professor, but – Oh the joy in one word! – there is promise here. If you write something else, please send it our way."  Three weeks later she sent them Jane Eyre, a book that praised God, shook traditionalists and sits on my desk over a hundred years later.

My goodness.

My darling readers, please do what you love. Teach! Sing! Dance! Mother! Create! Explore! Find the things that have rattled within you since before you could speak. Gather up your discoveries and don your courage. There is promise in each of you.

Raise it up and send it our way.

The Big Picture

I am a woman of faith.

As a child when I heard people talk about faith I thought they were sharing the secret to a life unspoiled by heartache. As if a belief in God would keep loss and uncertainty at bay.   I was in my teens when I realized that often faith only makes hard things more bearable. Sometimes all it can offer is the promise that those hard things will be bearable someday, and my, don't you wish that someday were today? In a way this new knowledge was a comfort to me. I would be wary of a God that packaged up everything nice and neatly with a bow on top. A majority of humankind has a difficult time deciphering IKEA instructions, so if there were a divine plan that we could comprehend completely in our mortality I would be ever so suspicious. It seems to me that if we are truly players in a cosmic creation then there will be some things that we simply do not understand. And that is alright with me. Because I believe that whether it is inch by inch or in a blinding light, I will one day have all of my confusions clarified. In the meantime, I can question. I can seek. And at times, I can wait.

These last few months, me and my faith have been knocked around a bit. The core is still intact but all those little bits flying around the periphery, well, some of those have been shaken loose. It might take me some time to get them all back in the proper alignment. I know my questions have answers. I know those answers existed before I did. I know they will be given to me. I am trying to remember that I can wait.

A few days ago I read an article about NASA's latest, greatest achievement. They have captured "the deepest-ever view of the universe."  And, my oh my, it is a thing of wonder and beauty,  all black and whirling color. The prettiest gems against the richest backdrop. When you read NASA's article you learn quite a bit about their little picture. It contains 5,500 galaxies, their births and deaths. Much of the light travels from the beginning of the universe, only arriving to Earth millions of years after the fact, the ultimate grand entrance. When I reached the end of the article I looked for more, but that was it. A piece of the universe captured for the first time and only enough knowledge to squeak out eight paragraphs. So many things unknown and unsaid. I rejoiced in what they had discovered and marveled at everything they couldn't begin to understand. And I felt blessed. Blessed to be standing on one of those swirling jewels. Happy for what I know, in awe of everything I have yet to learn.

It is all out there. I will find it. I will understand. Truth doesn't change, rather it burns brightly in the night. I just need to have eyes that see.

I will question. I will seek. And at times, I will wait.

Because I am a woman of faith.