I only just discovered Laurie Lee’s 1959 memoir of his childhood in Cotswold, England. If I were to find myself in a Farenheit 451 scenario and had to discard every book I own but one and risk my life doing it, this is the book I died for.
Lee is a fine storyteller, but his descriptions of life’s minutiae reach spiritual heights. The pages are not unlike mindfulness, defined by Webster as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
Back down the lane in the thick hot darkness we walk drowsily, heavy with boots. Night odours come drifting from woods and gardens; sweet musks and sharp green acids. In the sky the fat stars bounce up and down, rhythmically, as we trudge along. Glow-worms, brighter than lamps or candles, spike the fields with their lemon fires, while huge horned beetles stumble out of the dark and buzz blindly around our heads.
-from Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee.
When religion breaks promises and good people betray one another and well-laid plans lose their thrust, may Cider with Rosie be your psalter, full of hymns in praise of creation and human relationship. It is a restorative read for weary souls.