A new look at Charlotte Brontë

When you have been given a snapshot, or someone else’s viewpoint about a person and don’t bother to go looking for a more balanced version. You will, like I have just discovered, that person only exists in fantasy.

Charlotte-bronte

I imagined from other people’s telling and visiting the Parsonage at Haworth, that the Bronte sisters were plain, pious, weedy little things who wrote as part of a drab life. I imagined them terribly polite with exquisite manners who would never dunk a biscuit in tea. “Good” women, good Christian women who faced trials and tribulations head on and suffered, oh and produced great melodramatic novels.

The background: I was reading a book today,

SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS (XV-XIX CENTURIES)

ARRANGED BY M. DUCKITT & H. WRAGG 1913.

I was interested in Cowper’s letters with Newton and also Charles Lamb’s letter to Coleridge. A search term I used brought me to this letter of Charlotte Bronte to an un-named friend. She shows some fire. In other bits I have read and of the images now seen refreshed, she is certainly not plain and possibly had a lover, Monsieur Heber in Brussels

I now have to go find the real Charlotte, or my snapshot of her to get a more balanced view.

A letter from Charlotte to a friend bemoaning curates and admitting temper.

[1845.]

You thought I refused you coldly, did you? It was a queer sort of coldness, when I would have given my ears to say Yes, and was obliged to say No. Matters, however, are now a little changed. Anne is come home, and her presence certainly makes me feel more at liberty. Then, if all be well, I will come and see you. Tell me only when I must come. Mention the week and the day. Have the kindness also to answer the following queries, if you can. How far is it from Leeds to Sheffield? Can you give me a notion of the cost? Of course, when I come, you will let me enjoy your own company in peace, and not drag me out a-visiting. I have no desire at all to see your curate. I think he must be like all the other curates I have seen; and they seem to me a self-seeking, vain, empty race. At this blessed moment, we have no less than three of them in Haworth parish—and there is not one to mend another. The other day, they all three, accompanied by Mr. S., dropped, or rather rushed, in unexpectedly to tea. It was Monday (baking-day), and I was hot and tired; still, if they had behaved quietly and decently, I would have served them out their tea in peace; but they began glorifying themselves, and abusing Dissenters in such a manner, that my temper lost its balance, and I pronounced a few sentences sharply and rapidly, which struck them all dumb. Papa was greatly horrified also, but I don’t regret it.

Sojourner Truth

Struth400

in between blogging, writing a short story and a poem, making lunch and starting my homework, I came across in a flukey way, The narrative of Sojourner Truth, and began to read it, and read and read. I love it when books are so powerful you have to read it one sitting. Apart from the appauling conditions in which she lived in her firt years up to her freedom I was struck by one incident.

At a camp fire meeting she was cowering behind a trunk, being the only black woman there and assuming that the young louts that were causing a scene would set upon her. She prayed and decided to get up and sing. She stood in the middle of the area, singing, the louts crowded around her with clubs and batons. She stopped, and asked them not to beat her. They all said they weren’t going to hurt her, they wanted to hear her: sing, pray, speak. For a while she did just that and they sat and listened. She then asked them to leave and they did.

She didn’t need to use violent thought or action to get them to do her bidding. Her voice did that. Her voice that was filled with sweet scripture, challenging lyrics and splendid rhetoric. This woman knew how to hold her audience, she had a gift, a gift given to her by the Lord, a gift that she spent most of her free life using to share the word of the Lord.

Her speech “Ain’t I A Woman” used often in women’s right’s campaigns has both a tenderness and humour that belies the actual content. She was a fierce woman, the first to win a court case against a white man. A beautiful insight of a woman designed by God for the glory of God.

awareness of visual impairment

Each person who is blind or visually impaired is an individual, with feelings, interests, strengths, needs and goals as varied as those of any other person.

Definition of visual impairment:

Vision is either

1. LOST (field loss, blind spot(s), cataracts)

2. BLURRED (cataracts, double/strabismus), poor contrast or resolution OR

3. HAMPERED (nystagmus, fluctuations, multiple floaters, photophobia, color blindness, poor

night vision)

When you meet a person who happens to be blind:

• identify yourself.

• if there are others present, address each person by name so there’s no mistaking to whom you are talking.

• remember that an unseen smile can be supplemented by a warm handshake and a friendly tone of voice.

• talk directly to the person and not through a companion, even if the person is deaf and blind.

• tell the person when you leave so that he/she isn’t left talking to an empty space.

When you are talking with a person who is blind:

• don’t worry about using words like “see”, “look”, “watch” and “blind” – most people who are blind are not offended by these words and use them in their own speech.

• use a normal tone of voice – most people who are blind have perfectly normal hearing, so there is no need to raise your voice. On the other hand, don’t assume that because the person is blind he/she automatically has extraordinary senses of touch or hearing.

• look directly at the person, if your gaze wanders, your voice follows.

When you are offering assistance to a person who is blind:

• if you think a person needs help, offer assistance, but allow the person to decide whether the help is needed and in what way it will be most appreciated.

• if you escort a person, offer your arm and let him/her hold your arm at the most comfortable location for them, usually just above the elbow for a person equal in height to you.

• placing the person’s hand on the back of the chair will allow them to be seated independently.

• avoid touching or moving the person or the person’s belongings without warning and/or necessity. Respect each individual’s personal space, belongings and independence.

• if you must leave the person alone momentarily, leave him/her within contact with a wall, chair or some other stationary object.

• keep directions as brief and clear as possible, using left and right according to the way he/she is facing.

• remember – verbal pointing and hand gestures are meaningless to a person unable to see them.

Helpful tips:

• when dining out, read the menu and prices, and ask the person if they’d like to know the positions of various foods on their plate. If more help is needed, the person will ask.

• leave doors either fully opened or closed, as a door or drawer left partially opened can be dangerous and/or confusing, even for a person with partial sight.

• include the person who is blind or visually impaired in every decision to rearrange furniture, whether for safety, convenience or aesthetic reasons do not touch, pet, feed or otherwise distract a guide dog without the persons permission, as the person’s safety depends upon the attention of the dog.

Groove– ee Suzie

Yea, thank you Lord, it has been a long time coming and I have tried to be patient in my waiting, scared that it would never happen again. Last night I broke my duck and wrote. I had been thinking about doing it for ages but was scared what kind of voice would come out. The days of “Slasher Suzie” are gone. I can’t get to that point of utter hopelessness in my writing because I can’t feel it in my life.

It was a strange night, I had studied, I had read and got back to my three blogs after being immersed in Nathan and David for three days. It was half past midnight and I was about to switch off and go to bed. A friend had emailed earlier and the content of the email was still ruminating around in my head. The story I wrote was not her story, far from it, but it was the inspiration.

It was a short piece about 1200 words, a third of what I’d done in my exegesis of 2 Samuel 12:5-7 earlier on in the day. However it is complete, the tragic half finished pieces that litter my bedroom do not have a new playmate, and “A Tattered Affair” is posted on blogger.

I am not pressurising myself to keep producing, I’ll be like a hen, laying every day and then stop for a rest before continuing again. I am in a state of awe at our Lord, that he managed to get through my scaredy cat state to help me move on from my block.

I haven’t read much Christian fiction, Joshua and Joshua’s children and a few by some American ladies. I am sure there’s edgy stuff out there but I can’t write wishy washy tales that present themselves as Christian and yet the only Christian thing is they go to church. (not Joshua stories, I found part of those to be lovely narrative, the inter faith  one especially) One of the authors I read started out with Mills & Boon, which I have to admit (if that’s the right word) I have never even read the back cover of one. Maybe they are good literature for their genre, but it’s not me.

My two favourite authors are dead, Douglas Adams and Anne MacCaffrey. I still get great stimulation from Douglas’ “Dirk Gently” books, Hitchhiker is a bit different because it was written just at the beginning of the digital age and so is quite difficult to translate to the technology we have now, even the size of the “Guide” is laughable in today’s context.

I can remember a time when I would scour the charity shops of Cork hunting for a new Anne MacCaffrey, “Killashandra” was my first introduction to her but I was soon swept away to a land where people, dragons and dolphins worked together against a hostile environment. Two years ago re-read a few but I couldn’t ‘get them’ anymore. I was left grieving for the characters because they didn’t know God. I know sad isn’t it feeling sorry for fictional characters but I did.

Talenkynic, not sure what to do with her, I  think I will leave her hanging for a while longer, till I am more mature and can know how to have an alien in a Christian story. Mary, my beautiful queen of the crows, Morrigan. I still love her, she was my first character, totally unloved and unloveable, she had no redeeming features at all, and yet she broke through and was written whilst I was waiting to get on a plane at Kerry Airport.

So I’ve got my groove back, I can write (Yea) and I must be patient for the next inspiration, not scared but excited at the prospect. Lord I wait, thank you