Anne of Green Gables was a favorite childhood book of mine. I inherited my first copy of the novel from my aunt. I read it aloud almost every year to my elementary school students when I was a teacher. I read it aloud to my older son when he was six. Canadian author Lucy Maude Montgomery created a heroine in Anne that has appealed to several successive generations. Anne’s adventures have earned her fans around the world.
You may not think of Anne of Green Gables as a book where you would find spiritual insights but one of the most popular pieces I wrote when I was a columnist for the Faith Page of the Winnipeg Free Press some twenty years ago, was about what people of faith can learn from Anne of Green Gables.
“She’s glad to be a Christian”, is Anne’s remark after being introduced to the wife of her church’s new minister. Anne finds Christians a rather melancholy lot until she meets this cheerful young woman. It’s refreshing for her to encounter someone who is serious about their faith, but also takes such delight in living, and finds real joy in her relationships with others.
Anne sees a picture called Christ Blessing Little Children and wishes the artist hadn’t painted Jesus looking so serious. “I don’t believe he looked that sad,” says Anne, “or the children would have been afraid of him.” Anne envisions Jesus as someone who enjoyed life and took pleasure in his interactions with others.
“If I were a man I think I’d be a minister”, Anne declares. She goes on to say she’d be sure to pick short, snappy texts for her sermons and preach with imaginative creativity. Lucy Maud Montgomery created her lively red-headed character in the early 1900s when there was no female clergy. How brilliant to use her novel as a way to explore the possibility of women behind the pulpit. Anne goes on to ask “ Why can’t women be ministers?” She says if any work needs to be done in the church from fundraising to meal preparation, the ladies of the congregation carry out the task with energy and success. Why couldn’t they preach too?
“I don’t think it’s fair for the teacher to ask all the questions. There were lots of questions I wanted to ask”. Anne makes this observation after her first experience in a Sunday school class. She figures churches should be places where people feel comfortable asking lots of questions.
“If I really wanted to pray, I’d go into a great big field. I’d lie down and look up into that lovely sky, that looks like there’s no end to its’ blueness and then I’d just feel a prayer.” Anne makes that observation when she is trying to think of a way to address God and isn’t sure what to say. One particularly beautiful day Anne says, “The world looks like something God imagined for his own pleasure.”
Be cheerful. Enjoy life and human relationships. Appreciate everyone’s talents and gifts. Ask questions. Get out into the great outdoors to renew your soul.
Some sound spiritual advice from Anne of Green Gables.