Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Yearling

"A mark was on him from the day's delight, so that all his life, when April was a thin green and the flavor of rain was on his tongue, an old wound would throb and a nostalgia would fill him for something he could not quite remember..."

Inspired by Andrew Peterson's album, Light for a Lost Boy, I recently decided to read the children's classic, The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. The quote above is from the end of chapter 1, and set a foreboding mood for the rest of the book. Even as I read about all the beautiful, charming things the little boy, Jody, experienced, I had this feeling that something horrible was about to happen to destroy it all. It took me two months to read it because of this looming dread... I wanted the beauty to last as long as possible.

Over the span of one year, Jody experiences some things that change his life and make him lose his innocent childlike perception of the world... kind of an anti-Peter Pan story, much to my dismay. There is an overall feeling of not-rightness, as things die and fall apart around him, and his soul fights against it:

"Jody felt uneasy and miserable, alone at the edge of the marsh. The world seemed empty. Only over the scrub the buzzards wheeled, profiting... He climbed to the top of the load of hay and lay flat on his back, staring at the sky. He decided that the world was a very peculiar place to live in. Things happened that had no reason and made no sense and did harm, like the bears and panthers, but without their excuse of hunger. He did not approve."

Reminds me of this valley of white pines in Glacier National Park. A fungus is killing them... apparently about 30% of the trees in the valley are dead and 70% of the remaining trees are infected and are dying. And whether it matters to anyone else in the world or not, I do not approve. Death and decay should not be allowed in a place so beautiful and wild as that. In Jody's story, best friends shouldn't die suddenly, floods should not destroy everything, creatures shouldn't go rogue and kill each other for no reason, jealousy should not destroy friendships, relationships should not tear families apart, and he shouldn't have to kill the thing he loves more than anything in the world. And I'm sure you can think of the things in your story that shouldn't be... the painful, seemingly meaningless things that singe your heart and try to make you "grow up" - lose your hope and your faith in beauty, truth, and love.

I think the cruelest lie ever told was the one the serpent said to Eve: "You will not surely die..." If she had only known what death really meant - physical, emotional, relational death - surely she would have spat in his face and run back to Adam and God and the good fruit. But like everything else that fell in that garden, God will redeem this too. One of these days, he'll redeem it all - he'll bring life back to those white pines, he'll restore Jody's beloved yearling to him, he'll heal wounds and dry eyes and make things right. In the midst of the valley of dead trees and broken dreams, remember that, and let it be an anchor of hope.

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