Friday, June 05, 2009

Thank you, Harper Lee

My very-most-best-favorite book as I was growing up was, and still is, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. By the time I had graduated High School I probably had it memorized. I still return to it when I need the comfort of an old, familiar friend. Years ago I read it out loud to Nathaniel, a couple of years later I read it to Kate. I am now reading it to the younger three. Rebekah already had to read it for school, but some things are best shared, and this book is one of those things.

In two sittings we have read eight chapters. Three the first night, then last night I read four. When I announced that I was finished for the evening Isaac begged me for "just one more chapter". How could I resist? We left Scout and Jem with Miss Maudie's house burnt down and Scout in possession of a blanket presumable given to her by Boo Radley.

When we approach certain parts of the story I already know that I will be crying. The end certainly, but there are other moments that tug at my heart and my tears irresistibly. My kids are used to this weakness of mine. I cry over almost any book, from Velveteen Rabbit, (A real bunny? Sob,...sniff) to certain chapters of James Herriott. (Okay, maybe not Tom Clancy.)

Mockingbird should elicit tears. Injustice, seen afresh through the eyes of a child, once we have grown callous in our "maturity and wisdom" shocks one back to the pain that it should elicit. The pain of others ought always to move us to compassion- and action.

I pray that my children always recognize injustice and respond with courage. And I pray that their hearts remain tender enough to cry over a good book now and then.

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