Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter & Me—A Book I recommend by Lorilee Craker wherein she explores what it means to be Orphaned and what it means to Belong.
I suppose Lowell brought home this book from the library because of the title. I’ve always loved Anne of Green Gables. I read through the entire series by Lucy Maud Montgomery when I was in grade three. I’ve watched the movies more times than I can count. In 2014 a dear bosom friend, Corinne, took me on the trip of a lifetime to Prince Edward Island to discover where Anne came to belong. I have always loved that precocious Anne with an “e”. However, I had never really thought of themes in the stories that I so completely connect with–themes of being orphaned, of longing for and of finding belonging.
Craker, in this deeply personal book, explores briefly what it is in us that is fascinated with literary orphans. Why do we resonate with characters like Oliver Twist, Mary Lennox (from The Secret Garden), Tom Sawyer, Harry Potter, Orphan Annie, Polyanna, Heidi, Dorothy Gale from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and others? Our popular culture is curiously populated with orphans too: Tarzan, Elsa, Mowgli, James Bond, Cyclops, Snow White, Margo, Edith and Agnes from Despicable Me. Even our super heroes are not exempt: Superman and Spiderman, Batman and Robin, The Flash, Captain Marvel, Captain America were all orphans.
In her story Craker came upon a definition of “orphan” that perhaps explains in part our obsession with the orphan. It was a definition that struck a chord. An orphan is one bereft, left behind and left.
By that definition, we’ve all been orphans at one time or another. We’ve all been brought to our knees by the loss of someone we love, somebody whose death bereaves us terribly. We’ve all been left behind, renounced, ditched, and forsaken. Fired. Dumped. Snubbed. And who among us has not been just plain left, plopped down on the curb of life, waiting for the ride that will never come? (page xi)
The entire book is a masterful weaving together of Craker’s own story of being adopted by a kind hearted book seller and his devoted wife, the story of her adopting their beloved daughter, Phoebe, from Korea and the timeless tale of Anne of Green Gables. As the book unfolds the reader is invited to join Craker in her honest search for what it fully means to belong.
I suspect, as an Adult Third Culture Kid, I was part of an unintended audience for such a book. And yet I felt my heart stirred and consoled as Craker shared with vulnerability her painful questions and some of the answers she comes to that bring varying levels of comfort. Who knew that the red headed orphan girl who found a place on Prince Edward Island and in the hearts of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert could lead us to deep truths about heart connections, kinship and true community?
That (heart) break belongs to everyone who has ever been bereft, left behind, and left—in other words to Maude, to Phoebe, to all of us. But God mends and makes us strong at the broken places…
Phoebe has to do her own work… I can tell her she’s work fighting for. I can tell her that our cracked stories don’t have the last word, not by a long shot. Baby girl, believe that the best things lie around the bend in the road. Stay fascinated with the road beyond! Speak in your own tongue and minister to the needs of humanity. Never forget.
I can tell her that our heart-bones are healing because we belong to Jehovah Rapha.
He said that there could be a better way; that all things could be made new.
Everyone wants to feel secure and wanted. We all want to belong.
He said He would not leave us as waifs on the street; He comes for us. He never forgets the children whose names are written in the palm of his hand. God makes us belong. He is enough.
At every bend in the road, our Father is waiting for us, reaching out his arms. And we are orphans no more. (Anne of Green Gables, My Dauther & Me. Lorilee Craker, Tyndale House, 2015. Pages 222-223).