A New Year with an Author From the Past

We remember Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish novelist, for Treasure IslandKidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But even a little research reveals another legacy this author left us.

Stevenson lived only forty-four years, became a literary celebrity during his brief lifetime, and ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world. Literary geniuses Hemingway, Kipling, Jack London, and Arthur Conan Doyle admired his works, and G.K. Chesterton declared that Stevenson “seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins.’

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Robert loved to travel, and fell in love with a married American woman in France. Eventually, she returned to the States, divorced her husband, and married Robert. He gained two stepsons in this marriage, and the couple continued to seek adventures in California, Hawaii, and Samoa.

Perhaps not the perfect example of piety, but neither was King David–and millions still read both men’s writings. Stevenson still exhibited faith. During these days between Christmas and New Year’s, I consider the winter storm bearing down on the route we’ll soon travel to Arizona, and his Christmas prayer informs me.

“Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clean hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake, Amen!”

Acknowledging the world’s hate and evil, Stevenson prayed for deliverance and “… to be merry with clear hearts …”  What does this mean? Perhaps to face evil and hate head-on, yet still find joy. RobertLouisStevens_3125983b

Stevenson knew pain first-hand, since he suffered from hemorrhaging lungs and lived only to the age of forty-four. He wrote many of his best manuscripts from bed, including Treasure Island, conjured after drawing a map for his son. First serialized in a magazine, this story captivated young readers’ hearts.

Since Stevenson’s death in 1894, evil and hate continue to have a heyday. But this author’s prayer still calls us to share the angels’ song and marvel with the shepherds and wise men.

As we enter a new year, his words fit this hurting world’s needs–and ours, to be realistic, prayerful, grateful and forgiving. To be merry with clear hearts–and to use our creative gifts to the best of our ability.

Sounds like a goal for 2016!    

Faith – It’s EVERYWHERE, it’s EVERYWHERE!!

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These tracks go somewhere. Just because we can’t see their destination doesn’t mean they don’t have one.

Similarly, people may say they don’t believe, but often suspend rationality. This is true in the internet world. For example, I replied to a FaceBook message from a woman I’ve never personally met. Her page cited her as a writer, so I asked what she wrote.

She sent a message: Nothing. I know I ought to be writing, but something in me keeps me from taking action. I don’t know if it’s fear of failure, or what, but my so-called writing is nonexistent at this point.

My reply: I’m a born cheerleader for people who have even one iota of an inkling that they’d like to write. I mentioned that I’d put off my desire to write for many years, so could relate to her situation.

Later, she let me know that she rarely checks her FB messages, and received mine by some fluke in the system that had never occurred before. (Do you get the picture that I’m no pro at using these tools?) Anyway, I answered that I’m not so hot at FB, either, and gave her my e-mail address.

Within an hour, another message came from her, saying she’d received that message from me in a text. Go figure. I don’t even know her phone number. Maybe there’s a logical explanation, but my reply works for me:

Well, I’d say maybe we’re meant to continue our conversation, and that some other power besides Google must be in charge of the airwaves.

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The more I think about it, seems that Internet users exhibit raw faith. We trust this manmade technical tool will work. We trust these messages we send, unseen yet real, will reach their destination. And we trust that malevolent hackers won’t interfere and send our lives into a tailspin.

Our belief is a kind of “knowing,” like the assurance that leaves turn fiery orange in autumn. But there’s really more evidence for the latter–we’ve seen it happen year after year.

Faith manifests in many modern arenas, though naysayers deny the facts. But this internet one escaped my notice so far. When I complete this article, I’ll edit it a few times and eventually post it or send it to some other blogger who’s invited me to visit. Their blog—tangible in one sense, highly intangible in another.

It’s all about tuning into the right address, calling up the blog’s presence, and embracing its power to aid communication. Kind of like another unseen, but totally real presence.

Reminds me of the excitement I feel today as my debut novel wends its way from New York. I trusted that it would be published, and now, that it’s been mailed. Seeing it for real will confirm what I’ve believed, and also be pure FUN! Of course, then I need to trust that readers will come … if you write it, readers will come.

Yes, readers will come, just like winter will. And they’ll fall in love with my heroine, and …

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