A faded photograph of my great-great grandmother, Emma Cook, was recently handed down to me. I never met her but I named a story character after her. All that I know about Emma has come from tid-bits of memories shared by my mother.
Like my great-great grandmother, the Emma of my story is soft on advice, big on cheer, and graciously understanding. In Pocketful of Pinecones Carol says, “Emma is as durable as marble and as gentle as the May’s mist. I’d like someday to be more like her.” Underneath Emma’s feminine sweetness is the rock-hard strength of her trust in the God of the Bible. I created her for my readers, to be an older-woman-in-the-Lord.
If you’ve read Lessons at Blackberry Inn you might like to know that the Edwardian style of dress Emma wore to her birthday party is based on a dress I’ve had hanging in my closet for more than twenty years. I bought it in England in 1986 to wear to church.
In my childhood I used to walk around the corner to visit with Emma Cook’s daughter, Helen, (my great-grandmother). These old wooden and wire hangers were made by Helen’s hand. I inherited them. I thought you’d like to see the kind of crocheted gifts the Emma of my story liked to make.
Could this be because “in person” insights are shared in smaller doses? The natural sparsity of advice of “in person” conversation offers an engaging combination of wisdom and admonishment. Charlotte Mason’s description of the potency of an idea tells us that the seed of an idea grows gradually. As you apply it new aspects suggest themselves, new aspects make their appeal. An idea unfolds its leaves as it receives a little more pondering, a little more prayer. This makes further application possible. We know better which steps to take.
The Holy Spirit does this work of enlightenment in us. We don’t need a superabundance of advice to spur us onward. Really good advice, that is small enough to be taken with a grain of salt, is plenty – for the time being.
You may not have had the comfort of an older-woman-in-the-Lord in your life. Too few of us have. It’s sad. But I will make a good guess, my friend, that God is working in you so that you are becoming one. You may even be one right now.