The book stared back at me. Dared me to pick it up. Buy it, even.
It’s blue – always a favourite colour. And written on the front in large capitals:
START YOUR OWN HAPPINESS PROJECT – GUIDE INSIDE.
Can I ever feel HAPPY again?
Resigning from my beloved work in ordained ministry to concentrate on getting well again, emotionally, spiritually, physically.
Recovering from the dark heaviness of depression and post traumatic stress syndrome which has clung and clawed to my shoulders for sixteen months.
Removing the burden of the guilt of not working - a first step to accepting this major life change, this living with What. Happened. And. Cannot. Be. Undone.
And joy. Can I find joy again as I learn to give thanks and find the grace in each moment?
The book leaps into my hand. I start reading as we drive away. I am hooked from the start, wanting to know if it’s possible for me too. Knowing I need to work out my own salvation because it is God at work in me. So I begin. January.
But I read fast and furious, wanting to know next month and the one after; and the book tells of discerning what made its author happy when younger.
I am instantly eleven years old. Gawky and geeky, losing the immense podgy penny-ness. Happy, cycling freely and fast; devouring books faster than my parents can buy them for me, scribbling stories of my own creating, racing with the dog along the beach.
That was me. That joyous little girl. Where did she get so lost? Can she be refound in a new me?
Regroup. Remember. Reform.
What counts is whether we (I) have been transformed into a new creation. (Gal 6:15, NLT)
That happy girl. She read. And read. I have not, for a year, been able to read.
Can I find my reading me again?
Might children’s literature be a hidden treasure?
The project tells of a new book group; of the joy of rereading those much loved gems of childhood. My heart leaps.
Can I do it? Commit to a book a month with friends?
Narnia. Green Gables. And Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents. Should Mallory Towers creep in? And the Lone Pine Five and my complete set of The Chalet School? All 58 of them?
Did anyone else read Dorita Fairlie Bruce and Mary Louise Parker and Elsie Oxenham? Even their names weave an ancient spell.
The Secret Garden and The Little Princess. Noel Streatfield.
Alice and Katy. The mayday Queens in The Abbey. Heidi of course.
And more, so many more.
They are on my bookshelves still.
Could we meet and enjoy? Find some fun? Eat food from the books?
Would you come?