A friend gave a beautiful book this year for Advent. It included a reading for each day leading up to Christmas. And no matter what holiday you celebrate – I hope you might find this resonates…
So one morning the reading was on “doing love.” It discussed that love is not only a feeling, an emotion, but it’s infinitely more – it is action, an action, dynamic and doing. I found that intriguing – the idea that by doing for others you not only express love, but you grow love.
Now simultaneously I am also editing my next novel, The Austen Escape. My stories never follow any Austen plot line or character but allude to them as a common language and a wellspring of story. Because, bottom-line, I find her to be spot-on, to reveal the realities of human nature and our interactions. And after this reading, I realized again her brilliance…
In Mansfield Park, Fanny Price is not a character who says much. She does not go around saying “I love you. I love you.” – and considering her difficult family, perhaps she doesn’t feel it often. She is subordinate to her cousins; subordinate to everyone – and they, especially Aunt Norris, remind her of it constantly. And yet she shows love in powerful ways, Fanny does things. She takes care of her indolent Aunt Bertram, sits with her, takes care of her pug, and works needlework with her. She later steps into the play, which she is against, so that it can continue, because that is what her cousins wish. Over and over again, Fanny serves her family. She shows love through doing.
Austen doesn’t show us many characters in the novel who do this. Fanny is almost unique, which I think is Austen’s point. But Fanny is not alone – one other character does the same. When Fanny is scared and alone during her early days at Mansfield Park, Edmund is the one who simply sits with her and asks her to tell her about her family, every story and every person. His doing is listening – which is exactly what Fanny needed.
As we look to 2017 – and I’d like to practice more doing love in my life.
Any New Year’s Resolutions on your end?