I finished The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher this weekend and really enjoyed it. Until this year, I’ve never really read memoirs, but so far I’ve loved all (four) I’ve read! Dawn will have to recommend more to me. ;)
A little way toward living a life of love
The business done in the home is nothing less than the shaping of the bodies and souls of humanity. –G.K. Chesterton
This is my signature quote not because I think having children and being in the home all the time is always the right and only thing to do. This is my signature quote because creating and being home is one of the central roles we have as women, regardless of our station in life.
I thought this was portrayed beautifully in The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, the story of a small-town wife, mother, and public school teacher who touched everyone with whom she interacted with love and compassion. Dreher deftly showed how small acts, such as simply seeing a person, as well as more sacrificial acts, can affect another person’s whole course of life.
I had somehow come to think of her living in a small town as equivalent to her living a small life. That was fine by me, if it made her content, but there was about it the air of settling. Or so I thought. What I had seen and heard these last few days showed me how wrong I had been.
It affected me all the more because it was a year and a half ago that I went to the funeral of a wife, mom, and teacher who also touched many lives. It has been long enough that the impact her death brought home to me had faded, and it wasn’t until I turned the page to the middle insert with a photograph of Ruthie Leming and I was startled by it that I realized I’d been picturing Ruthie as my acquaintance-mentor-friend who had also lost to cancer, leaving three children and a small town’s worth of touched lives.
I was able to see the effect of Ruthie’s love, given and returned, in steadfast acts of ordinary faith, hope, and charity. The little way of Ruthie Leming is the plainest thing in the world, something any of us could choose. And yet so few of us do.
Yes, that of course is first and most often our children and husbands, but it extends to grocery store clerks, the lady in the parking lot who makes a comment that sounds rude, the annoying neighbor, and so on.
Ruthie’s example is one of seeing that there is pain and hardship behind most flubs, rude comments, and jerky behavior. We can take offense or we can give grace. Charity is giving grace.
Wherever we are called to be, whether it is a small town or medium town or big city, a land native or foreign, we serve best when we take the time to really see and acknowledge the people in front of us. I’m good at projects; I’m less good at people. But I can look into eyes and smile; anyone can.
Ruthie’s charity was not monetary but a disposition: having a charitable opinion of people. That is a charity within all our powers to give.
My Book Bag
- Theology: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. This book itself is a rare jewel.
- Science: The Periodic Kingdom by P.W. Atkins . (Read during Elementary Lessons)
- Humanities: Consider This by Karen Glass
- Whim: Marshmallow Test . Audible Audio.
- Fiction/Memoir: Beowulf: A New Verse Rendering by Douglas Wilson