Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I just finished reading this month's read for my bookgroup, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I really liked it. It reminded me of lots of old black and white movies I've seen about tenement living in New York City. I can't remember the names of any of them right now, but there's always the nice, Irish cop walking his beat, mean little boys creating mischief, and parents trying to make enough money to feed their children. If anyone can recommend a movie like that, please let me know the title.

All I can say is that I'm glad I have enough food to eat, because I'd find it extremely hard if not impossible to be

hopeful and cheery living in that kind of poverty.

Here's a paragraph that really stood out to me when I read it. It's a prayer by the teenage daughter. "Dear God," she prayed, "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry . . . have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere-be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost."

She was afraid of a life of drudgery and endless striving to get ahead; of becoming emotionally deadened to life.

Being a drama queen myself, this passage shouts out to me. I struggle with being obedient to God's Word by "living a quiet life" and "being content in all things" as the Apostle Paul learned to do. I want to pitch and rail, shout from the rooftops, fall down sobbing...I told you I was a drama queen. I don't do those things, anymore, but I want to.

I think I have a fear of complacency; of becoming an invisible old woman. What I need to do is be obedient to follow Scripture and God will be faithful to bring me along as He wills. Maybe I don't trust Him enough?


Sara Lorayne said...

I think God likes emotion too, at the right times. Just look at thunder storms...what passion! Or the thundering waves upon the sand....or the breathtaking beauty of a sunrise or sunset that makes you want to fall to your know? I love that quote you shared from the, love, love it. I could be mistaken but I'm pretty sure someone made a movie out of this book. And I think there's an old B&W movie called "I Remember Mama" that has a similar story?

Left-Handed Housewife said...

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my favorite book! I relate to Francie's prayer, and also have had similar thoughts to yours--maybe I need to live a little more quietly sometimes. Sometimes in my efforts to live fully, I think I might live a little too selfishly--it's about me having creative experiences and doing lots of stuff. It's not always God-centered.

"I Remember Mama" is the movie version of the wonderful, wonderful book "Mama's Bank Account"--another one of my favorites!


Barbara said...

Have you ever read "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment" by Jeremiah Burroughs? I was blessed to have Providentially found that in the early months of my Christian walk and it became formative and foundational for me. Tremendous, powerful. Written at time when people were losing their families to the Black Plague. Very, very helpful exposition of Philippians 4:11: "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." I hungered for that, and by God's grace He is working that in me - and that little book has been part of that.

I don't know of any books that tell that story but there is a pull toward early historic NYC for some reason, I know it too. Hope you can find what you're looking for there!