Friday, February 25, 2005

Curdie and Calling

Fascinating, the connections you can make in reading, especially when you're not looking for them.

Ponytails and I were reading George MacDonald's The Princess and Curdie, which is the sequel to The Princess and the Goblin. Curdie, the hero of the first book, has grown into a rather blase teenager. He seems to have lost his imagination and some of the good character qualities that he had in the first book, and to be living just for his day-to-day work in the mines. For no particular reason, he shoots a pigeon outside the castle where his friend Princess Irene used to live, and as he does this, something inside him seems to shock him out of his stupor. When he realizes that the bird isn't quite dead, something tells him to go up to the tower of the castle and ask for help...or something...from Irene's mysterious "great-great-grandmother" who he's actually never seen but who lives in the tower and seems to be connected with the birds. When he makes it all the way up all the stairs to the tower and finally gets to her door, she calls him name...he finally sees her and they talk. She forgives him, promises to heal the bird, and gives him some advice and warnings.

Later last night I got into the third chapter of The Call, by Os Guinness: "Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life." He quotes some letters written in prison by Vaclav Havel, and says this:

"It is only by responding and growing responsible, Havel argues, that one 'stands on one's own two feet.' He then asserts what all his thinking has led him to: 'I would say that responsibility for oneself is a inife we use to carve our own inimitable features in the panorama of Being; it is the pen with which we write into the history of Being that story of the fresh creation of the world that each new human existence always is.'"

Guinness again quotes Havel's letter: "someone eternal, who through himself makes me eternal as well...someone to whom I relate entirely and for whom, ultimately, I would do everything. At the same time, the "someone" addresses me directly and personally."

And then he goes on to talk about the need for us to understand that we are "called to be" (more on that another time). But the connections were so obvious, I wondered for a minute if all these writers had been sitting at the same table while they wrote! Yes, that's it, I thought, what Curdie had lost and what he seemed to find again by visiting the grandmother: responsibility. And there is a hidden meaning in that word: it also means "response-a-bility." Fascinating.

1 comment:

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Connections indeed! We've been reading Heidi, and young Whose-its has been most disturbed by Peter's behavior toward the end of the book. He has pushed a wheelchair down the mountain, and now he is skulking around, thinking everybody knows and he will be arrested any moment.
Whose-its sat straight up in bed and told me that he needed to just admit that he did it, to tell people what he did, and say he's sorry, and he will feel much better, but that if he waits until he really is caught, it will be much worse for him.
We've had some very good talks about 'owning your own actions' - all because of Heidi.