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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #85


    And he did not fear loneliness for her, for he knew the preciousness of the single state... The cell, and the sunlight moving on the bare wall... He had chosen it once, knowing it the life for him, and then had come the ending of Daphne's engagement to some young rotter whom he had never met, and her despair, the despair of the girl he had loved all her life, and to serve her he had shut the door of the cell behind him with himself outside.  He had lost his cell yet, paradoxically, it existed now somewhere within him.  He believed that in dying he might leave it to Margary as other men leave their daughter a material house.  When she was old she would go in and find peace.  [...]      He did not know about her private joys, though he supposed she had them, as he had.  He did not know how his own awareness of beauty, his intense joy in it for a moment or two, and then his willing loss of joy, was in Margary an awareness of delight in others.  She knew when people were happy, whether they laughed or not.  Indeed at eight years old she knew already that laughter was not always a sign of happiness.  Sometimes when people were completely quiet there came to her that wonderful sense of well being, and her taut nerves relaxed in peace.  But there was the other side of the picture.  When others were wretched, even though hiddenly so, she was strung up and anguished.  A child still, she knew nothing of herself.  She did not understand the reason for the deep alternations of mood that afflicted her, and could not know yet how acceptance of the change from well-being to its opposite, offered for those who suffered, could serve them.  That supreme usefulness to which her awareness of the needs of others would eventually lead her was a long way in the future, and before she found the bare cell there would be the desert of ineffectiveness to cross, for she was one whose fear and reserve would make it hard for her to have the normal happy traffic with her fellow human beings.       But now, three miles away, a man and woman laughed within the shelter of a grey rock, and though a minute before her throat had been tight with the tears she could not shed, now her burden was eased and such a sense of joyous well-being came to her body that her shoulders straightened and she lifted her bent head.   -Elizabeth Goudge, The Rosemary Tree (1956), pp. 49-51

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