Posted in Christianity, Fiction, My Thoughts

Jack and Jill – Saint Lucy

I’m currently reading a book from Louisa May Alcott called “Jack and Jill”. A story about the lives of the youngsters living in Harmony Village, a small town in New England. The book was originally published in 1880, so it was pretty mesmerizing to read a story with the beauty of sentences and language from more than a hundred years ago.

Like many people, I first knew Louisa M. Alcott from her famous novel ‘Little Women’. I was hypnotized by the charming story of the characters in this book, and how charming her description was about their journey in learning life and finding love. But it’s been more than thirty years since I read her book, and it was translated in my language. Thus reading Jack and Jill in its original language is a new experience for me – and I’m captivated by her beautiful words!

The story told us about Jack Minot and Janey Pecq who are best friends and live next door to each other. To mimic the old rhyme, Janey gets called of Jill. And just like in the old rhyme, Jack and Jill did slide the hill, resulting in a serious injury for both children. Jack hurt his leg and had to rest at home for several weeks, but Jill hurt her back badly and had to lay on her back for many months.

Jill was portrayed as an impulsive little lady, who dared to do the bravest thing you can ever imagine to be done by boys. Nothing could stop Jill from doing what she wants. But on the other hand, Jill has the purest heart ever – paired with a pure voice, just like the voice of an angel. So Jill had to spend months of her days in the bed but she didn’t make it to waste.

Saint Lucy

In one chapter, Jack was in trouble because he was trying to help one fellow of his. Jill persisted in her own ways to prove Jack’s innocence and she did! The whole house was happy to see that Jack didn’t disobey orders because he lacked wisdom but because he wanted to do what was right.

In the next chapter, Jack’s mother Mrs. Minot was so thankful to Jill for what she did, and she made some plans to help Jill in improving her health and she was to let Jill and her mother live together with them in the big mansion. She revealed her plans to Jill and her sons, Frank and Jack, in the form of a story: Saint Lucy.

“Where was your Saint Lucy? I thought it was about her,” asked Jack, who did not like to have Jill’s past troubles dwelt upon, since his were not. 

“She is coming. Saints are not born—they are made after many trials and tribulations,” answered his mother, looking at the fire as if it helped her to spin her little story. 

“Well, the poor child used to sing sometimes to while away the long hours—sad songs mostly, and one among them which the queen taught her was ‘Sweet Patience, Come.’ “This she used to sing a great deal after a while, never dreaming that Patience was an angel who could hear and obey

But it was so; and one night, when the girl had lulled herself to sleep with that song, the angel came. Nobody saw the lovely spirit with tender eyes, and a voice that was like balm. No one heard the rustle of wings as she hovered over the little bed and touched the lips, the eyes, the hands of the sleeper, and then flew away, leaving three gifts behind. The girl did not know why, but after that night the songs grew gayer, there seemed to be more sunshine everywhere her eyes looked, and her hands were never tired of helping others in various pretty, useful, or pleasant ways. Slowly the wild bird ceased to beat against the bars, but sat in its cage and made music for all in the palace, till the queen could not do without it, the poor mother cheered up, and the princes called the girl their nightingale.”

Saints are not born — they are made

Many of us imagine the saints as people who were born holy. They were just the way they were – saints, people who conducted a holy life, people who were close to God, people of merits and virtues.

We are not saints and we don’t lead righteous lives, and we think that was because we were not born saints. Instead we were born sinners just like all normal humans. So we excuse our mistakes and think that it is to be expected to stay this way because we are just humans. We are not saints.

But saints are not born, they are made! Remember Saint Paul who used to chase the followers of Jesus because he wanted to kill them? Or Saint Peter who was just a coward who left his Master when He was enduring the sufferings and afflictions. Augustine of Hippo, the one of the biggest theologians and the doctor of the church, was very rebellious in his past.

Saints are made after many trials and tribulations. We all hope to live in righteousness and live according to the Bible tells us to and it’s not easy to do. Every single time we fall into temptations and make mistakes, and we think we’re just not cut out for it – that we were not born saints. 

But again, no saints were actually born, except for Jesus Christ who was born without sin and made no sin. The rest were just human like us, who were changed, transformed, purified and sanctified through many trials and tribulations by grace.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1: 6 – 7)

Sweet Patience, Come

I love, I love, I love the moral lessons in this part! Jill had a heart of gold, but she was impulsive and impatient. The time she spent on her back laying in bed unable to move had greatly taught her the meaning of patience and endurance.

She had her friends coming to cheer her up with all sorts of ideas that they could think of to entertain her while she was bound to bed, but still most of the time she had to endure it by herself. Mrs. Minot told the children this story about Lucy (it was actually a parable about Jill and her two sons) that was taught the song ‘Sweet Patience, come’.

Lucy sang the song with all her heart, never dreaming that Patience was an angel who could hear and obey. How wonderful, how marvelous and how true! We think of virtues as a state we need to achieve (and boy how they are unreachable many times!), but in a sense, virtues are God given.

Patience, for example, is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Only when we attach ourselves to the Vine Himself can we produce these fruits in our lives. Patience is not only to be worked on, but also to be asked – the Spirit will help us when we ask, by letting us through the lessons we need to exercise our calmness and forbearance, and in the same time He bears the burdens together with us so we can hold the afflictions and be more patient.

I just love, again, I LOVE the way Mrs. Minot told the children about it: Patience is an angel who could hear and obey. Then pray, my fellow Christians, pray for the Spirit, pray to God to grant you all the patience you ever need. And in His time, and unknown even to yourself, this angel will come and remain in your heart and give you rest.

Sweet Patience, Come!
With long distress my spirit faints,
And my heart breaks with its complaints;
And eager pain, to find relief,
Solicits even change of grief, –
And unbelief disturbs my trust,
And shakes my hopes – as with a gust
Spring blossoms flutter from the stalk,
And withering lie upon the walk: –

Sweet Patience, come!
Sweet Patience, come!

Not from a low and earthly source – 
Waiting, till things shall have their course, – 
Not as accepting present pain
In hope of some hereafter gain, – 
Not in a dull and sullen calm, – 
But as a breath of heavenly balm,
Bidding my weary heart submit
To bear whatever God sees it,

Sweet Patience, come!
Sweet Patience, come!

Tell me my Father hath not shed
One grief too many on my head:
Tell me His love remembers still
His children, suffering at His will. – 
How excellent a thought to me
His loving kindness then shall be!
Then in the shadow of His wings
I’ll hide me, from all troublous things;

Sweet Patience, come!

~ Hymns of the Church Militant, #329

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