I picked it up on a whim and it rocked my world. In need of a relaxing summer read, I began to read Boston Jane: An Adventure by Jennifer L. Holm for probably the seventh time in my life. It's one of those books that brings me back again and again.
I first read this book when I was eight. At that time, I thought the sixteen-year-old main character, Jane, was so grown up. Now, I marvel at her youth and wisdom. Set in 1854, the story follows Jane's journey from spittin' tom boy to proper lady. She ends up falling in love long-distance and traveling by boat to marry her fiancé, who's one of the first in what will become Oregon territory. Needless to say, she's disappointed when she arrives, and finds herself making do, learning to live in a strange place.
Although Jane's story is not my own, I felt myself relating to her in a new way. Life is an adventure. A person is born and eventually dies, but in between those things, lives through seasons, some full of joy and others filled with pain. Painful goodbyes, such as Jane's goodbye to her family, led to the embrace of the rest of her life. Life is about beginnings and endings, whether of life itself or seasons of life. It's about choices. Saying no to one thing means saying yes to another. One community can be exchanged for another. New situations can become your new home.
I think of college. When I moved to college as a freshman, I knew very few people. I said goodbye to my parents and my home, and yes to education, for a time. It was hard. I was literally learning a foreign language, Greek, but also the rhythms and demands of college life. I had lost the closeness of my family community, which enabled me to cultivate a rich community of friends. Now, Newberg is, in a real sense, my home.
Jane experiences many journeys, a microcosm being her life in Philadelphia as a beginning and her new life in the Washington Territory as the end; the ship ride there, the in between. Yet, wrapped within the larger story is a finding of her own identity. As I read, I was grateful that as a Christian, I don't have to journey through life alone. Instead, God is my constant companion, who I can depend on to impart wisdom, strength and peace. I can find my identity in Him, who brought about my beginning.
Both beginnings and endings are bittersweet. Beginnings necessitate endings. Endings bring beginnings. For the Christian, even death itself is the beginning of new life. In between the beginnings and endings, growth happens and things change. It's the journey, made of laughter, sweat and tears. Despite the difficulty, life is good and worth living.