As we step carefully through the threshold into Jane Austen’s house, H ducks his six foot, four inch frame through the small doorway. In tandem with each of our footsteps, a squeak from wooden floor boards creaks open the quietness.
Walking slowly around the dining room table, I move to the corner, stop and linger over simple treasures lying in a glass cabinet and read each museum label. Hints like bread crumbs to the mystery of her character. And I see my reflection as the back drop.
It is what Jane Austen does in each one of her classic stories. She bravely holds up a mirror to the vulnerabilities of humanity with words that grant courage to pursue your life’s calling.
As I turn the corner, move up the narrow staircase, simple vases of fresh cut flowers are the centerpiece of each window sill, greeting us with beauty.
The world knows so little about the woman who penned the words of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Perhaps that is what piques our curiosity and makes her stories classic literature. As I pad through the rooms where she slept, read books aloud and stitched quilts beside her sister, a theme comes to the forefront.
Circumstances don’t dictate the depth or breathe of your influence. God consecrates each of us for purpose.
It is when we measure our worth to that of our next door neighbor that value becomes distorted.
Jane’s family members recognized her gifts and then paved the way for her writing to flourish. From a simple writing desk with a quill and ink well, she faithfully edited her books during the final eight years of her life in Chawton. Two centuries later, her influence surpasses forty-one years of presence so we can remember.
Sometimes identity is distorted because we focus on imperfections in the mirror that are fleeting instead of seeing our reflection with the eyes of destiny. That is what Jane Austen teaches me.
What are your favorite Jane Austen books?