This summer I have been revisiting a book that my mom read to me when I was around 11 or 12. Once I could read myself, my mom naturally didn't read to me anymore but for some reason she felt drawn to this book and wanted to share it. Now rereading it as an adult I see why. The book is 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' by Betty Smith and published in 1943. It is about the Nolan Family, an Irish immigrant family, in the summer of 1912. Life is hard to say the least but there is hope. The tree which I believe to be an Elm however it is never said and I quote "some people call it the Tree of Heaven, no matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement."
There is many little nuggets in this book about growing up, love, family and having hope even when life throws you hardships. But the quote I found on the importance of the imagination for the child, I felt I had to share! It is said so eloquently by Katie Nolan's mom, Mary, at the time of Katie having her first child. And I quote:
"You must tell the child the fairy tales of the old county. You must tell of those not of earth who live forever in the hearts of people-fairies, elves, dwarfs, ghosts and such. Oh, and you must not forget the Kris Kringle. The child must believe in him until she reaches the age of six."
"Mother, I know there are no ghosts or fairies. I would be teaching the child foolish lies."
Mary spoke sharply. "You do not know whether there are not ghosts on earth or angels in heaven."
"I know there is no Santa Claus."
"Yet you must teach the child that these things are so."
"Why?" asked Katie, "When I, myself, do not believe?"
"Because," explained Mary Rommely simply, "the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that this child believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for."
"The child will grow up and find out things for herself. She will know that I lied. She will be disappointed." Katie said grimly.
"That is what is called learning the truth. It is a good thing to learn the truth one's self. To first believe with all your heart, and then not to believe, is good too. It fattens the emotions and makes them to stretch. When as a woman life and people disappoint her, she will have had practice in disappointment and it will not come so hard. It makes a person rich in character."
Waldorf Education has at it's core keeping the imagination strong and intact, only one of the many things I love about this way of teaching. Thank you Betty Smith for writing such am amazing book that nails it on the head still 70 years later! Remarkable! If you haven't read it I highly suggest it or if you have a child around 12, you may want to cuddle in and do some reading to them as you did when they were small. I am now 44 and I have such a wonderful memory of being young, on the brink of so much change but safe in my mom's arms with a wonderful book. Thank you mom, I love you! You have instilled in me that even when there is a major bump in the road, all is still right in the world!
Love and Peace to you and your family,