What the whole family said
What did the whole family say? Well, let’s listen first to what little Marie said.
It was little Marie’s birthday, the loveliest day of the year in her opinion. All her young friends, both boys and girls, came to play with her, and she wore her finest dress; this she had been given by her grandma, who was now with the Lord God, but grandma had cut it out and sewn it herself before she left for the brightness and beauty of heaven above. The table in Marie’s room was resplendent with presents; there was the most attractive little kitchen with everything that belongs to a kitchen, and a doll that could turn its eyes in different directions and say ’Ow’ if you pressed its stomach; yes, and there was a picture book with the most delightful stories for you to read, when you were able to. But more delightful than all the stories was of course to be able to experience many birthdays.
‘Oh, it’s marvellous to be alive!’ little Marie Said. Her godfather added that life was the most wonderful fairytale adventure of all.
In the living room close by were both her brothers; they were big boys, one nine years old, the other eleven. They also felt it was marvellous to be alive, to live in the way they did, not as a child, like Marie, no, to be a cheerful schoolboy, to have ‘Excellent’ written in their reports and to be able to enjoy scrapping with their schoolmates, go skating in the winter and bicycling in the summer, to read about knight’s castles, drawbridges and dungeons, to hear about explorations in the depths of Africa. One of the boys though was anxious about everything being discovered before he had grown up; for then he wanted to go off on adventures. For godfather had said that life was the most wonderful adventure of all, and one is part of it oneself.
In was in the living room that these children were romping around; above them lived the other branch of the family, also children, although these were well past infancy, they were much more grown up; one son was seventeen years old, the other twenty, but the third one was very old, little Marie said, he was twenty-five and engaged to be married. All of them were most fortunately placed in life, had good parents, good clothes, the gift of a good mind, and they knew what they wanted, ‘onwards! away with all the old fences! a clear view of the entire world!’ that is the most wonderful thing we know. Godfather is right: life is the most wonderful adventure of all!’
The father and mother, both of them older – of course, they had to be older than the children – said with a smile round their lips, with a smile in their eye and heart: ‘How young they are, the young folk! things in the world will not quite go as they imagine, but they go on even so. Life is a strange, wonderful adventure!’
And above them, a little closer to heaven, as one says when there are people who live up in the attic, lived godfather. He was old in years but his mind was young, he was always in a good mood, and then he was good at telling stories, so many and such long ones. He had travelled far and wide, and there were lovely objects from all countries of the world in his room. There were pictures from ceiling to floor, and some of the window panes were of red and of yellow glass; if one looked through them, the whole world was bathed in sunshine, even if the weather was ever so grey outside. In a large glass box green plants grew, and in a compartment inside goldfish swam; they looked at one as if they knew so much that they didn’t want to speak about. There was always a scent of flowers here, even in the wintertime, and then a large fire would blaze in the fireplace; it was such fun to see and gaze into it and listen to it creaking and crackling. ‘It reads old memories to me!’ godfather said, and it also seemed to little Marie that many images could be seen in the fire.
But in the large bookcase close by stood the real books; one of these godfather often used to read in, and he called it the Book of All Books, it was the Bible. There, expressed in images, were the history of the whole world and of all humanity, the Creation, the Flood, Kings and the King of Kings.
‘Everything that has taken place and will take place is in this book!’ godfather said. ‘What an immeasurable amount in one single book! just think of it! Yes, everything a man could ever ask for has been said and expressed in few words in the Lord’s Prayer, it is a drop of mercy! it is the pearl of consolation from God. It is laid as a gift on the child’s cradle, laid at the child’s heart. Little child, keep it safe! never lose it, no matter how big you become, and you will never get lost on the changing paths of life! it will illuminate you, and you will never get lost!
Godfather’s eyes gleamed as he said this, they gleamed with joy. Once, in his younger years, they had wept, ‘and that was also a good thing,’ he said, ‘it was during times of tribulation, when everything looked so grey. Now I have sunshine around me and within me. The older one gets, the more one realises in adversity and in good fortune that Our Lord is always with one, that life is the most wonderful adventure of all, and that only He can give it us, and that it lasts into Eternity!’
‘It is marvellous to be alive!’ little Marie said.
As did the younger and older boys as well; father and mother, the whole family said it, but more than anyone so did godfather, and he had experience, he was the oldest of them all, he knew all the stories, all the adventures, and he said, and did so straight from the heart: ‘Life is the most wonderful adventure of all!’