THREE REMARKABLE PEOPLE, each of whom I want to recommend.
What do you do when you’ve torn your MCL and have to sit with the injured leg raised, a vast leg brace adorning thigh to ankle, and the brightly-bruised knee covered with ice packs, for most of the time?
Cue a good book. My love of reading has at last returned, after several years when PTSD took away both the desire and the ability to concentrate. So, this past week I have discovered three heroines each of whom has had an impact, and two of whom were written about while the authors were staying at The Vine at Mays Farm.
THE EVENNESS OF THINGS by Deborah Fiddimore (a pen name) has a heroine who is a Vicar’s wife suffering from PTSD following a car accident in which both the heroine and her close relative are involved; and the end result is a large house bought in order both to escape the memories and to open for Retreats. Sound familiar? Me too. But no, it’s not written by me nor about me (even though much of it was written in my house!) Daisy, this heroine, learns as I have, that “a house cannot save you. But in the right circumstances - peaceful, beautiful, with trained people for support - it can help.”
‘The Evenness of Things’ is not long; but it is profound. And by the end, you realize “Life has a way of evenning things. If you let it. If you listen.”
I moved from that novella to a booklet, EDITH CAVELL – A FORGOTTEN HEROINE.
Written largely in my house too, by Nick Miller, it is brief outline of the life and death of Nurse Edith Cavell, executed one hundred years ago for rescuing Allied servicemen. But the reason for this short retelling of her story on the centenary of her death, is because of her strong Christian commitment and the way her actions were determined by her faith. During her last few weeks she was imprisoned and she used the time to read and annotate ‘Of the Imitations of Christ’ by Thomas a Kempis. Quotations from both Edith Cavell and the Imitations give rise to personal reflection, such as : “What lessons can I take from her life? Am I willing to follow her in imitating Christ?” (p24).
This is a little book which would be a wonderful inspiration to read and use for reflection while on retreat. What better place than where it was written?!
Now for something completely different.
CATHERINE THE GREAT: Robert K Massie. What a contrast to the previous two! Two women or two books? Both; for this hefty tome is a biography of Catherine the Great, The Empress Catherine II who ruled Russia during the 18th Century. Born Sophia Augusta in a little German state, she was married while a young teenager to Grand Duke Peter, heir to the Russian empire, and in order to be acceptable as wife to the heir, Sophia was baptised into the Orthodox Church with the name Catherine, even though she had been brought up as Lutheran. The story of this intelligent, strong and determined woman who devoted herself to her adopted country and who changed the course of Russian history, is fascinating and demanding. While envying her energy, enthusiasm and strong spirit, I am saddened by her unhappy marriage, by the three children fathered by three different men none of whom was her husband, by her lack of religious conviction as her unhappiness turned to political intrigue and leadership. Yet, like Edith Cavell, a lot of Catherine’s actions were from a compelling sense of duty and from a desire to do the best for others – Edith for those she nursed and rescued, Catherine for her adopted country.
Each of these women – Daisy, Edith and Catherine – has lived with me these past days and been a part of my subconscious as I have read their stories, considered their beliefs, weighed and interpreted their lives.
Which speaks most to you?