I’m reading another Anne Parrish novel – as usual nursing each paragraph in a vain attempt to forestall the inevitable turning of the last page. Each of her books seems to me to be even more enchanting than the last; and Mr. Despondency’s Daughter may be the best of them all. (I reserve the right to update my assessment, however. I already have Sea Level and Loads of Love on deck, and from the rare online reviews I’ve been able to find, they both promise literary pleasures unknown to readers of contemporary fiction.)
The thing about Parrish is that, so often, I find myself stopping to read a phrase or sentence or passage over and over again, because she has expressed something I’ve been unable to put into words, some yearning that slips away just as I’m about to grasp it with my feeble old brain.
The quote above is a great example. For years, the sight of morning sunlight spilling over the European spindle trees and through the young leaves of a Japanese tree lilac has made me dizzy with an unnamed hunger – one that author Mark Buchanan captured beautifully in his five-star book Things Unseen:
"There you are, standing at a window watching oak leaves flutter down from dark boughs, and without warning your whole body fills with a longing for something you can't name, something you've lost but never had, that you're nostalgic for yet don't remember. You sense a joy so huge it breaks you, a sorrow so deep it cleanses."
I find myself awash in this emotion more and more these days, suddenly woozy at the scent of an ancient lilac or the sound of an organ playing “Lead on O King Eternal” or the sight of a particular vase my Granny owned or a collection of Steiff toys in the antique shop I retreat to when the news of this world becomes too grim to bear.
And now, Anne Parrish has finished the thought for me: these memories -- these “broken, but brighter, fresher” longings – may be prophecies of the glory to come, the promise of ultimate fulfillment for the child of God.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly,” wrote the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
I can hardly wait.