Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Autumn has a nostalgic effect on me. Every year when the weather starts to cool, the leaves begin to change, and the evenings become shorter, I can't help but be reminded of years gone past. I am not talking about my years, but long years ago when people lived a much simpler life (in some ways) and autumn was truly a time of harvest for them.
I have always been an old-fashioned kind of girl, but even more so as the season of Fall goes on. I think about the lives I have read in stories, such as Anne of Green Gables or The Little House series...lives where people worked hard, knew an awful lot (despite lacking educations), and loved one another enough to pitch in and help when times were tough. Perfection I do not see in those stories, but a true sense of community and a devotion to Someone and something much bigger than themselves!
Being the dreamer I am, I can't help but imagine what it would be like to live a life such as the men and women in pioneer days. Of course, in my mind it is much more romantic than reality, but still I think there are some things that they understood that we have overlooked:
*The importance of family - People in days gone by desired to have large families and children really were considered a blessing and a gift from God. Obviously the hands were needed to work the farms, but it was more than just that! Fathers and Mothers understood the sacrifices and responsibilities in raising their children, yet they went about it with an attitude of honor rather than duty or obligation. Children, in turn, perceived their parent's love and commitment and genuinely respected them and regarded them as their dearest friends.
*Knowledge of the things around them - Knowledge "in those days" wasn't optional! It was a necessity. One needed to know how to make butter or milk, how to build their homes, how to care for their flocks & families...life depended upon their knowledge and resourcefulness. I think about the things that I encounter on a day-to-day basis and how much I don't know about the very essentials! How to cook from scratch (completely!), how to sew or quilt, the care of land animals or the tending of gardens or flowerbeds...all of these things I have very limited knowledge on - and I can't help but feel that I have been cheated! With each new "convenience item" man invented, a little more of the knowledge of the things around us was stripped away.
*Dependance on God and each other - Almost all classic literature that portrays life in pioneer times naturally relates the foundation of the families and communities...God and His Holy Word! Over and over you will read of families who prayed together, fasted together, read God's Word on a daily basis together and not at all begrudgingly! Entire communities met together to hear the Word preached, to pray for God's forgiveness and provision, and spur one another on to good works and belief in God's goodness and mercy! There was this general knowledge of God's Word and His ways that knit communities together. Today there is all this talk about the importance of diversity, but somehow, in the name of diversity, concrete belief in anything wanes. It is rare to meet someone who fully believes one particular way...it reminds me of the toothpaste aisle - there are so many choices, that when you leave the store you're never fully sure that you bought the best one! People's belief systems seem to me to be like this, a gnawing uncertainty in their hearts, regardless of the professions of their mouths. How refreshing it would be to meet men and women who truly believed and followed the words of Christ!
*Gratitude and Simple Joys - Oh, how often I catch myself thinking in the negative! And to think, I have the "words of life" (Bible), live in the USA, am married to a wonderful husband, have 5 very healthy children, am able to stay at home with them each day, lack no provisions, and on and on and on...!
What an ungreatful woman I can be! Just the other day as I was reading Anne of Green Gables to the boys, we listened as she repeatedly expresses her joy in the natural things around her (the blooming trees & shrubs, flowers, sunshine, etc...)And I think back to Christmastime in The Little House series - the children would receive a few pieces of candy along with some homemade gifts and were elated for days! Comparing that to my family today gives me this remorseful feeling about some of the ways we have adopted without giving them any thought. In just a few months we will celebrate Christmas ourselves, yet I am dreading the shallowness of it in today's society. What I would give to be able to start all over again and guide my children into the ways of thankfulness and simple joys!
Of course, I can't go on and pretend that there was all of this goodness without the bad. I know full well that life in those times was hard! I can't imagine the grief of losing children or a husband or wife, as many did to illness. The effort it would have taken just to get the meals on the table or the laundy done is beyond me! However, I still believe that there was substance to these people that is lacking today...there was belief! There was character and hope and the hard work to go along with it all! Somehow in these twenty first-century days of Fall I pray that the Nave household may experience a bit of it!