Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friday Fragments

All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened. --Ernest Hemingway

I have been thinking lately about the value of literature to a person and to society. As a teacher, I was occasionally challenged to justify the teaching of literature by people who felt that only nonfiction has value. I often remembered this quote from Hemingway about the value of fiction as a distillation of actual human experience. I know that in my own life, there have been times when literature, or more precisely the memory of literature that I have read, has popped up and helped me deal with tough times. My greatest comfort has always been from the Bible, but there are situations that scripture does not directly address. While great comfort comes from knowing that God is with us, and we are not alone, it is also good to know that we are not alone as human beings. As a child, I lost a dear family member about my own age. I must have read Little Women a hundred times, crying over what happened to Beth. I even memorized the long poems in the book that were written about her, and I found comfort in my grief. As a college student, I read the mysteries of Dorothy Sayers, and memories of what she wrote about Lord Peter’s ambivalent feelings about the death penalty helped me when as a young teacher I had a couple of students charged with terrible crimes. In the last few days, I’ve been thinking about Noah’s Compass and the meaning of that phrase in the book and its implications for my life at this time.

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Friday was a good day. We had a short visit with our son, including a good laugh about his 3-year-old daughter’s flock of imaginary chickens. Our daughter emailed about the progress her children are making with homeschooling. We are so fortunate to have children who have turned into such fine adults. I’m so proud of the contributions that both of them are making to the world.

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And finally, there are few more perfect experiences than ending a day by turning the heel on a sock. I am not much of a mathematician. I know that what makes the heel work is math, but it still feels like magic. I think that’s why I love making socks—just as the leg pattern begins to get boring to knit, there is the magic of turning the heel, followed by the interesting decreases of the gussets. When the decreasing gets old, there is only a fairly swift bit of tube knitting before shaping the toe. I have even come to enjoy grafting the toe. So much entertainment in such a little space!

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