They told me to come round for tea sometime, so I asked if I could come at 4. We sat in front of the warm fire, drank tea, stroked the dogs, and chatted. The chat went on and on, in a hurry, and when I was ready to leave, they urged me to stay to eat stew with them. I couldn’t refuse.
The conversation moved on, but always centered on books, stories, memories of stories. They have young bookworm girls always in need of book recommendations. “What did you read when you were a young teen, and 15 and 16, that shaped you?” they asked.
Instantly, I knew the book. It was Shadow of the Almighty. I read it before I understood the concepts of evangelization; I just liked the story.
As when someone asks you to lead a song, you suddenly don’t know any songs. And so I was blank when trying to recall anything else besides Jim Elliot’s story. Then I remembered Elizabeth Yates and her sweet word crafting, especially The Next Fine Day and On That Night.
Then it came to me, what to recommend for the young girls: all of Patricia St. John’s books. Each book has a theme Scripture verse that the plot winds around unobtrusively but beautifully. They’re set in all parts of the world, about winsome children with big life lessons in front of them. When I started to talk about the titles and themes in the books, I got goosebumps and almost choked up. The stories are so real and human, and I’m sure they shaped me more than I realize.
It was a lovely visit. After all, what could be better than sitting by a fire with tea, comparing favourite parts of Narnia or Lord of the Rings?!