Chapter 4 of Anne of Green Gables is such an epoch in Anne's life, there are two posts this week! This response is by Sara Domguia, a teacher wand host of a podcast where she interviews "Anne Girls," poeple who are inspired by Anne of Green Gables. Welcome, Sara!
I received some troubling news last week. It bowled me right over and I’ve been grappling its consequences ever since. Sometimes adversity comes this way, in a detonation of surprise and loss. More commonly, we deal with the lingering trials that creep up and hold fast, casting a shadow on our minds and hearts. L.M. Montgomery knew this well, didn’t she? She was no stranger to heavy burdens of the mind and yet still, she brought us Anne.
This morning, I took my two children on a walk. We live on the edge of a Bohemian forest in Germany. The paths are cultivated but the thickets to each side are wild and mysterious. Today the air was cool and fragrant. The sunlight danced through the leaves above. In a clearing, it would break into full radiance. I felt very Anneish as I sensed my concerns slip away to the pulsing energy of the wild and gorgeous world.
Last week, when we left Anne, she was in bed, crying herself to sleep. The poor girl was unable to even think of swallowing a chocolate caramel, so great was her hopelessness. Alone in the dark, we saw a “heart-hungry, friendless child”. Could you relate? As we awoke to the broad daylight of Chapter 4, however, we learned that even in it’s depths, despair can be left to the darkness and a new day can bring restoration. Here, I see L.M. Montgomery giving us a remedy, a little answer she found in her own life, on how to deal with sorrow.
Anne’s first experience with the new day was of “a flood of cheery sunshine pouring [in].” She was called to the window where she looked outside, enraptured.
In 1859, Florence Nightingale advocated for the powerful effect of light in her Notes on Nursing.
It is the unqualified result of all my experience with the sick, that second only to their need of fresh air is their need of light; that, after a close[d] room, what hurts them most is a dark room. And that it is not only light but direct sun-light they want... People think the effect is upon the spirits only. This is by no means the case. The sun is not only a painter but a sculptor…Without going into any scientific exposition we must admit that light has quite as real and tangible effects upon the human body.
One of Anne’s most magnetic characteristics is her connection to the natural world. She sets an example of delight and reference for the beauty of her surroundings. This relationship is not one-sided. While Anne supplies love and devotion, nature in turn responds with a healing balm.
This new day was particularly balmy for Anne and as the light coupled with the beauty of Green Gables, her soul began to heal. She looked out the window and let the beauty of the morning sink in. The cherry tree, the garden and the low sloping hills all played their part in renewal. As a result, her loquacious tongue returned, she was able to eat, and she felt that she could deal with her future, troublesome as it seemed.
At breakfast, she articulated her feelings to Marilla.
Oh, I don't mean just the tree; of course it's lovely--yes, it's radiantly lovely--it blooms as if it meant it--but I meant everything, the garden and the orchard and the brook and the woods, the whole big dear world. Don't you feel as if you just loved the world on a morning like this?
What a transformation! It is no small thing that the Anne we left in the pit of Chapter 3 is the same Anne who offered the question above. Here in Chapter 4, L.M. Montgomery invites us to pay attention as she proposes hope for our own depths of despair. To those readers who suffer with hearts bruised, worn, and even broken, go to bed and rest in the dark but when day comes, let the light in. Go outside. Reverence beauty. Let nature heal your soul.
It truly is a splendid thing that there are mornings.
Sara Domguia is the host of a podcast in which she interviews Anne Girls, people who have been inspired by Anne of Green Gables and created something interesting as a result. She’s launching a website and Facebook page today (her mama doesn’t even know about it yet) and you are invited to be the first to follow. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a great! Sara has a M.A. in Linguistics and has used it to train English teachers and teach English in the US, Ireland, Italy and South Korea. She currently lives in Germany with her soldier husband and their two children.