If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau
I have always been a dreamer. When I was a child in school I was constantly being called down in class for staring out of the window, chin in hand. When I would read a book, I lived in it–I literally walked with Anne Shirley through all her chagrin over red hair and geometry and Gilbert, and I nestled in the dim, light-filtered shadows of Marmee’s attic while Jo March spun her fantastic tales. When I was in junior high I was the one at the back of the room industriously scribbling out stories in the back of my algebra notebook and doubtless leaving my teachers mystified as to how so conscientious a student could perform so poorly on math tests.
And when I was given the life-changing opportunity of an idyllic (and I really do mean idyllic, thanks be to God) home education experience, something wild and sweet and joyous suddenly broke free within me and my fledgling soul soared skyward without the least inhibition or impediment, darting blissfully from one literary feast to another and back again in a glad spree of abundance. I could scarcely alight for long in those early days–the banquet was too rich and varied and my freedom too fresh not to soar and hover and settle and flit again as my fancy took me. In time I sobered down a bit, much to my mother’s relief, no doubt. But never, as long as I live, will I ever forget those ‘first, fine, careless raptures’, or the bright ideals and dreams that sprang from them. They have left their permanent mark upon my soul, one of the outward evidences of which is the stacks of books I find myself surrounded with to this very day. Creeping in at my desk on both sides, toppling my three-legged bedside table, accompanying me from room to room (and from continent to continent, as the case may be, to which the outlandish temporary ‘library’ I set up in England last fall will attest!).
I am deeply grateful to God for the wise friends that He has blessed me with in the way of books. Their dreams have validated mine again and again–dreams once thought so secret and solitary–and have given me a substance upon which to build a few cloud castles of my own. Their truths have affirmed to me the value of pain, ever couched in the goodness of God. And their witness has ever been one of a beauty that yearns and lures and breaks the heart with a loving stab of eternal reality. Elizabeth Goudge, George Eliot, Sheldon Vanauken, Elizabeth Gaskell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Gerard Manley Hopkins–and so many other trusted ones!–have taken up the threads that Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery began to weave so long ago, fitting their silken strands into the tapestry of my life and helping me to write my own story. There are times that I know a certain book or poem or line has been divinely chosen for me, hand-picked and illumined by God for a particular challenge or season of life, and few things compare to the sense exhilaration that accompanies. There are books that my husband and I have read together and have fallen more in love with God and life over. And there are others through which I have traveled with surprising joy at the recommendation or in the company of true kindred spirits. All dear–all gifts from Him who gives without stint and without ceasing.
I find as I grow older that I have more dreams–not less. And the end towards which all this rambling leads is that I have dreams for this humble little corner of the web. With all my heart I wish it to be a place of peace and beauty, “simplicity and contentment in a greedy and tired culture”, a haven from complaints and complaining. I want fellow dreamers to find themselves in good company, no matter how huge and howling the world may seem at times. I want the precious battered ones whose dreams have taken a beating to know that there is hope unimaginable in the blessed Person of Jesus Christ. I want to encourage the artist that lives within each one of us to take up the call to which we have been uniquely designed and to rejoice as children in the glory of God that results.
And I long to share the joys of a truly beautiful book–inside and out–and to make introductions between those readers and writers who just ought to be friends. (And I’m dreaming, somehow, of actually getting them into your hands, as the opportunity arises.) That is what I want to do here–that is what this site is about. And if you’re kind enough to be reading, I just thought you should know.
Speaking of your kindness, I would like to close with a profound thank you for all the lovely and generous comments that have been left over the past few months on my ‘return’ to Lanier’s Books. I really cannot tell you how you have inspired and blessed me with your encouragement. Madeleine L’Engle said, profoundly, that “art is communication”, and it just heartens me beyond words to know that I am not writing into a void. (Not that comments are required by any means or that my vanity needs stroking! But I was rather loathe to publish over those months that my comment form was broken, simply because I felt like I was talking to myself! ) At any rate, thank you for reading and for taking the time to tell me. It has meant so much.
For this I bless you most: You give much and know not that you give at all.