Alrighty, so I know I just posted an installment yesterday, but I thought (since we'd talked about doing double for a while to catch up a little bit) I'd do another one today.
Life is full of difficult truths. In this chapter, we explore the frailty of this human condition. Our dear Beth is fading before Jo's very eyes. With the money that Jo made during her summer in New York, she takes Beth on a trip to the seashore. While she enjoyed their time together, the trip did not have the effect that Jo was hoping for; Beth was still sick.
Beth is sick but at peace. She has found comfort in a faith that the Lord "could teach and strengthen heart and spirit for this life and the life to come. She did not rebuke Jo with saintly speeches, only loved her better for her passionate affection, and clung more closely to the dear human love, from which our Father never means us to be weaned, but through which He draws us closer to Himself."
There's nothing like a rebound relationship to cure a broken heart. Ok, I don't actually think that applies in this case, but it was sure fun to say :)
So our boy, Laurie, has been wandering Europe listlessly for who knows how long, wallowing in self-pity and idleness (as he is wont to do) and then he meets up with fair Amy.
Again, knowing something of the plot (from having seen the movie), I can see where things are going and I recognize that this foreknowledge probably heavily influences my opinions of our story. But I can't help but notice that Laurie has taken a new notice of little Amy.
Amy is not blind to the changes in Laurie, though she is unaware of their cause. Laurie is taller, older and quite handsome, even if a little broody and a mite artificial, and she found herself "conscious of a very natural desire to find favor in his sight". So she got all cuted-up (and it will be noted that he did as well) and they met again that evening for a party. Her efforts did not go unnoticed, or unappreciated and throughout the night they talked and the result was that Laurie found himself liking her more and more and "devoted himself to her for the rest of the evening in the most delightful manner; but the impulse that wrought this agreeable change was the result of one of the new impressions which both of them were unconsciously giving and receiving."
Initially when they met, Laurie was aloof and not quiet himself (as Amy remembered him). But, it seems that seeing Amy sparked a change in Laurie that day, almost on the subconscious level. He spoke more genuinely, he sat up straighter.. not because he thought she wanted it of him, but because he wanted to. By that, I feel, we are witness to the very beginnings of what is to come. And, I think, it's a surer foundation for these things to be built upon.
I thought this was a very sweet chapter. I really enjoyed the dynamics presented and the lessons learned by Meg and John. And I was heartened to see that it lead to a better division of labor.
Meg was feeling overwhelmed and stressed and essentially neglecting her husband in her devotion to caring for her children, whom they both loved dearly. To compensate, John took to having dinner at a friend's house and talking politics. When this finally penetrated Meg's frazzled brain, she was sad but didn't want to appear a clinging wife so she didn't say anything but became increasingly stressed and despondent.
Eventually, the wise Mrs. March stepped in and offered some hard-earned advice. She pointed out that, while she was sympathetic to Meg's feelings of being neglected, it was actually Meg's actions that had largely brought about these circumstances; by devoting herself 100% to the kids and never sparing a moment for her husband she had sent a message she had not intended to send. Mrs. March said, "Don't neglect husband for children, don't shut him out of the nursery, but teach him how to help in it. His place is there as well as yours, and the children need him. Let him feel that he has a part to do, and he will do it gladly and faithfully, and it will be better for you all."
And in implementing it, Meg found it to be sound advice. Her coddling her children was causing them to walk all over her, and John was willing to be stern and let the children understand that there needed to be boundaries in all things, even bed-times. Once a clearer law was established, and the parents remembered to think of each other as individuals as well as parents, peace was restored and the home became a haven of love and support that even those outside the family noticed and enjoyed partaking in.
These are wise words of counsel and something that I think would be good to keep in mind as I go forward with life.Who doesn't want a home like that?