Thursday, August 30, 2012

More Lessons from Little House

"On that dreadful morning when Mary could not see even sunshine full in her eyes, Pa had said that Laura must see for her. He had said, 'Your two eyes are quick enough, and your tongue, if you will use them for Mary.' And Laura had promised. So she tried to be eyes for Mary, and it was seldom that Mary need ask her, 'See out loud for me, Laura, please.'"
-Laura Ingalls Wilder, By the Shores of Silver Lake

So, we're still working through the Little House series on audio tape. Maddie is as eager as I am to listen whenever we're in the car. She even asks if we need to go to town for anything so she can ride along and listen.

We're up to the fourth book, By the Shores of Silver Lake. In comparison to the others, which move slowly and deliberately, you're hit with several major plot twists in the first 25 pages. A new member has been added to the Ingalls' brood: a baby girl, Grace. Mary, the oldest, is recovering from scarlet fever and has lost her lovely golden locks as well as her sight. Jack, the loyal and brave brindled bulldog, has died. Laura realizes that she is no longer a child and must help care for her sisters. The family is making preparations to move west to a new homestead after several years of hardship in Plum Creek.

I was moved almost to tears last night as we listened to the latest chapter on our way home from town. Mary, Laura, Carrie, Ma, and Baby Grace, were taking a train to meet up with Pa, who had gone ahead with the wagon and their possessions in preparation for the move west. Since Grace was still small and Mary still regaining her strength from her illness their progress would be slow, so the train ride would provide some support for the weary travelers. The train ride was a curiosity and luxury, and the girls were equal parts excited and terrified about their journey.

Ingalls Wilder describes the train ride in childlike detail. And it was through this description, quoted above, that I felt moved. Mary has lost her sight, but her younger sister Laura is bright and quick and shall "see out loud" for her sister. Laura describes the passenger car's appearance, the people going up and down the aisle, and the telegraph lines whizzing past the train car window. Mary need not ask for Laura's play-by-play, for Laura knows it is required of her and does it with great enthusiasm and tenderness.

For those readers who are lucky enough to have a sister, I imagine that this kind of relationship is automatic. Having two yucky younger brothers (love you, Joe and Tony!) I can't relate.

But isn't it a beautiful idea to have someone who can see for you when you are unable, or maybe unwilling, to see for yourself? And I don't just mean correcting you when you're headed down the wrong path. I mean someone you could count on to guide you through the rough times as well as celebrate with you in the good times. A a person who knows what you need before you're even aware that you need it.

I find Laura and Mary's relationship here to be like God's love for us. He knows what we need and what will guide us to success. As Jesus says in the sixth chapter of Matthew, "...your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."

But He does not shield us from failure and pain, as these shape us into useful instruments for His purposes. Mary and Laura have a difficult road ahead of them. They are starting over in a new land. While I wear myself out vacuuming my house, their days were filled with actually building and keeping a home with nothing but their strong hands and will. But they had each other.

Who is your extra set of eyes? Are you eyes for someone else? What does guiding and being guided teach you about yourself? I'd love to read your comments!

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