Let it be known that Martin Luther King Day (which is today) is my favourite Monday holiday. I even like it better than the Fourth of July. But I have nothing else to say about it, so I hereby acknowledge it, sincerely wish you a happy one, and am now going to talk about something else.
I have really early memories. I mean really early. But I’ll bet you didn’t know they go all the way back more than 130 years before I was born.
Back then, my name was Anna Russell.
I was the daughter of a Congregational minister. (These days, I’m the daughter of a Baptist one.)
In 1838, I was 18, commuting to a nearby town each week and boarding with an older couple, so I could teach children in a one-room school. I would travel home, usually by wagon and the kindness of some passing tradesman on the weekends. While there, I would visit neighbours with my mother, knit, sew, draw and write. I joined the Ladies’ Charitable Society and many of my handcrafted clothing items were sent to mission efforts in wilder parts of America or sometimes even other parts of the world. I liked to take walks on my own or with a friend or two in the fields and paths of my small New England town.
I had two older brothers, one of whom had disappointed my father by taking a degree at Harvard, that somewhat newly Unitarian school. My parents and I were staunch Trinitarians and I was very serious about my faith. My other brother was a lawyer. We didn’t see either of them very often.
I was keeping a diary in those days, recording my hopes and dreams. There was a young man who had been paying attention to me, and I was intrigued by him, but also afraid, because I knew he did not share the same beliefs about God and the Bible that I did. I was contemplating joining a mission to the Indians (sorry–that’s what we called them in 1838) out west–like Ohio or something. This may have been because I genuinely wanted them to hear about the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ–but it also might have been because I was afraid of my feelings for that young man.
Okay, not exactly, but kind of. This was my character when I worked at the Living History Museum in 2002. (They don’t role-play there anymore, but I’m sure glad I got to be there when they did.) The name, family and vocational details were all made up by others and assigned to me, and I made the most of it. How great is it when you want to spend your life talking to other people about Jesus, to get assigned to the one place in a secular job where you can talk about Jesus as much as you want? I made up the part about the guy, because there really was a guy working at the Museum at the time who seemed to be interested in me, but we truly didn’t share the same faith and he already had a girlfriend. But it was okay because I also really was going out West–as far as Denver, in fact–to get a degree at a seminary. Then I quit and started working at Starbucks instead, but that’s another story.
When the BroFam was here we visited the Museum together, and then I went back with two friends on New Year’s Day, and I am pretty sure that this means Anna Russell’s diary–completed and expanded–is going to be my next novel.