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Wednesday, 03 July 2019 06:00

Lessons from the Faraway Tree (and other such stories)

 2019.35.Magic Faraway Tree.maqin blog image

 

Recently I have been spending my down time re-reading some of my favourite books from when I was growing up. I’ve enjoyed some of the adventures of the Famous Five as they climb through caves, catch smugglers and go away for a week by themselves in a horse drawn caravan. I have reminiscently climbed the Magic Faraway Tree, visiting Silky and Moon Face and discovering the lands of Tea Parties and Secrets. I’ve been to boarding school at Trebizon, hoping alongside Tish and Rebecca that their school will win the hockey and tennis tournament and that they will all end up in the same boarding house, and I have entered the magical land of Terebithia with Jesse and Leslie as they build the treehouse of their dreams and frequently escape to their fantasy world where anything is possible.

Yet what is it about such stories that draws me back to them so many years later.  It is certainly not the thought of tongue sandwiches which the Famous Five often delighted in, or dodging the water poured out by Dame Washalot after visiting a not-so-nice land such as the Land of Slaps at the top of the Faraway Tree.  It is not the trials and tribulations of boarding school life (though I used to think it would be the best fun ever) or the great sadness that young Jesse faces (spoiler alert) when his friend Leslie dies.

As a child, you would often find me reading, and my family used to make almost weekly library trips. This fostered in me a deep love of story as I found myself entering into the lives of the characters in the books that were constantly piled up beside my bed. I would laugh and cry with them, I would wish their life was my own or be glad that it wasn’t, I would imagine myself on their adventures, and consider how I would respond if I were in their circumstances.

Reading such stories encouraged me to see that anything is possible as characters persevered through the ups and downs of life (albeit with magical intervention in some cases), reminding me to keep going amidst my own challenges. They helped foster my own imagination, as I imagined what I would eat in the Land of Tea Parties (lemon meringue pie is high on this list), and contemplated getting away from Dame Slap.

I believe that this world of story has helped me to enter into the gift of imagining with God – into seeing with him that anything is possible for me life as I live my adventures with him. Now when I read the scriptures, these stories become the ones where I can imagine myself present, experiencing the healing touch of Jesus or being fed as part of the 5000.  

So perhaps you might also like to reread a favourite childhood book, and let God lead you to see what he might reveal to you through this story now.

Mel Edwards