We are two chapters from the end of The Singing Tree, the sequel to The Good Master by Kate Seredy. The Good Master was a little more fun with happy stories about managing a family and farm in Hungary. This book, while also quite good, is more involved with events of the day – well, of the First World War and it’s effects on that farm.
Father goes to war, Jancsi runs the farm. Death, danger, and struggle are intermingled with successes and joys. The “family” grows to include POWs and neighbors, Father returns in a surprising way. They begin to live as though in their own little island; just them with little interference from the outside.
It reminds me of the Jews in exile in Babylon – build homes, plant gardens, live at peace. The Nagy family (and extended family) attempts to live a quiet, peaceful life in the midst of turmoil. From time to time, that turmoil affects them:
They are calm. They are at peace within their lives. The things that look so big to the world, are not big in their day to day and therefore cause ‘hardly a ripple.’ What does cause a ripple in their lives is an opportunity to serve others – to expand their hearts to host others who need an oasis in the storm.
A dear friend of mine who has an outgoing personality and is an excellent instructor once told me that she struggled with the passage admonishing women to have a “gentle, and quiet spirit.” This lady is so gentle, but as a gifted teacher and counselor, quiet is not the word she would choose to describe herself and didn’t see that she could become so. She later learned, however, that the “quiet” in the passage was more calm, collected, settled, unflappable. It is a spirit that doesn’t flit about with every passion or wave. It is a life where we do – as Carol says – the next right thing. It is a life where withered leaves cause hardly a ripple.
Seredy uses this beautiful simile to show us how to seek the welfare of our city while living a quiet, peaceful life. A lesson all of us could use in these challenging days and the ones to come. There is, truly, nothing new under the sun.