One of the best parts about being a writer is that people very often tell me about wonderful books they think I would like. I love hearing about these books, but I feel guilty because I know I will read very few of them. I am a ridiculously slow reader and I have so many stories in my head that I spend every minute I can writing. The odds of me reading a recommended book do go up if the person hands me a physical copy of the book, and if the person handing me the book is my 9-year-old son the odds increase even further 😊
That is how I came to read My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George. I am sure many of you read this book as a child but I did not. It is an absolutely lovely story about a boy, Sam, who runs away from New York City to live in the mountains of the Catskills. It tells of what he ate and how he lived, a very early and very beautiful tale of survivalist fiction. I finished the book last night and then got into bed.
Like many people who get into bed, my mind started wandering and fear crept in. Fear of what if that bad thing happens again? What if this person doesn’t get better? What if this friend experiences a horrible loss again? What if someone I love gets sick or injured or dies? What if? What if? And then my mind jumped to Sam and his mountain.
One of the things the author kept repeating was now that Sam knew how to live in the woods he could live anywhere. Yes, he had his tree with his comfortable bed and stockpiles of food, but he knew how to survive without those things. He knew how to find food and shelter and he knew how to create a fire. So, he could flee the little home he created and start over in another place and he would be just fine. From there my mind bounced to St Paul in his letter to the Christians at Phillipi (Phillipians 4:12-13) where he says thank you for worrying about me but I’m okay. I have learned how to live in every situation.
St. Paul, like Sam, knew the secret of surviving. While Sam’s survival was about physical survival, St. Paul’s was about that and more. His was a message of peace and contentment in the very worst of moments (he was writing from jail). He had figured out the secret of this world because he knew the one who empowered him, the one who created him. I am not St. Paul or even Sam, but I have figured some things out. My faith is there in the best and worst of times and like St. Paul if I remain rooted there, I will be okay. Sam required very little to survive and with those small things (knowledge and a way to start a fire) he thrived. I think St. Paul’s message was very much the same, he required only his love for Jesus and dependence on Him and then he could thrive even in the darkest of places because he held the Light within himself and the darkness could never put it out (John 1:5).
I fell asleep after that and woke up feeling less worried about the world – the beautiful gift of a new day.
I know this can be a difficult time for many people for a variety of reasons. If one of those reasons is you have a loved one who is incarcerated, please send me an email so I can send them some of my books. It would be a blessing to me to be a small part of their life. I pray you all have a beautiful rest of Advent and a very Blessed Christmas and start to 2020!