Today was my favorite day.
A dear couple from our church took us out to the Brontë Parsonage perched on the hill behind the graveyard in Haworth, and that’s Charlotte’s writing desk you’re looking at right now. We saw the room in which Jane Eyre & Wuthering Heights were written, and in which Emily died.
We saw Anne’s delicate pencil drawings and Charlotte’s “little books,” scrawled in pinhead miniature. We spent a good and solemn two hours entering through the gates of imagination into the sad, short, and tragically unfair lives of these sisters. “I have many schemes in my head for future practice,” Anne wrote just before her untimely death at the age of 29. “I should not like them to come to nothing, and myself to have lived to so little purpose.”
And I wanted to tell Anne,
“Oh no. You’ve lived to the greatest purpose of all. You have been brave, and that’s the hardest thing.”
It came home to me today more powerfully than ever what it is I adore about the great Victorian writers: Tennyson, Dickens, Eliot, Gaskell, the Brownings, the Brontës. The lot of them. And it’s this: they were people of great honesty, not afraid to wrestle with God. Their writing is full of anguish, generosity, fury, and faith. They suffered, felt loneliness and piercing grief, struggled with the terror of death. They were asking the same questions we’re asking today. Their pondering and puzzling mirrors my own. Their words reach out through nearly two centuries as if to say, “I hear you.” And their stubborn confidence in God’s mercy lifts up my head.
“I wished to tell the truth,” Anne wrote in answer to the outraged reviews of her second novel, “for truth always conveys its own moral to those who are able to receive it.”
All of the images featured in “My Favorite Day” are courtesy of Bryana Joy
and used with her kind permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project.
This particular piece is published in Cultivating by the special request of our publisher, Lancia E. Smith.
Bryana Joy is a writer, poet, and full-time artist who spends most of her time making and mailing the Letters From The Sea Tower, a handmade monthly subscription letter full of watercolor sketches, paintings, and snippets of glory from the Great Books. Bryana has lived in Turkey, Texas, and England, and currently resides in Eastern Pennsylvania with her husband. She enjoys hosting online poetry workshops, and her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in an assortment of literary magazines, including The Christian Century, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Chestnut Review. Bryana takes delight in thunderstorms, loose-leaf tea, green countrysides, and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.