Have you ever read Anne of Ingleside? It sits in the 6th position of the Anne of Green Gables series. Anne has grown and now has kids of her own and the stories start to shift to be about her children. One story, I absolutely loved and I wanted to share with you – just in case you haven’t read it.
Anne’s second son is named Walter and he’s a poet and a romantic (not like love, but like a genre) and he is tender. People make fun of him for being “sensitive” or a “baby” or “acting like a little girl.” But Walter is strong and Walter has courage.
Anne is getting ready to have another baby, except she doesn’t tell her children this (I’m guessing it was taboo to talk about it outright.) So, her children don’t know she’s having a baby, but they are being sent away to stay with other people for 2 weeks.
For the first time in his life, Walter is separated from his older brother and sent to stay with a family he doesn’t really know on the other side of town. Six miles away. And if you think that he’s going to have a marvelous time on this holiday, you think wrong. Walter is miserable. He misses his family, he doesn’t know these kids, and right off, they start making fun of him. But Walter notices a little girl there. All the big kids are teasing him, but this little girl gives him strength. She gives him something to be brave for. Little Alice with her curls and pretty dress and sweet smile. He puts up with the teasing for so long before the mother of the house calls them in to supper. They eat, well, Walter doesn’t really eat – he’s worried sick. But when supper is over, they are sent back outside. As meek Walter walks out the door, he notices the two big boys are fighting. Walter’s never seen this kind of fight before and he doesn’t like it. He’s a lover, not a fighter, remember. But then he notices Alice, and she has tears in her eyes. So, what does Walter do? He steps in between the big kids and breaks up their fight. Because Alice. Because Bravery. Because Courage. Because lovers and meek men are not scared and wimpy.
Because Walter knows who he is and is not afraid.
I love this. And it only gets better. The big kids see how Alice appreciates what Walter did and they become jealous and angry. So, they start telling Walter that they heard their mother saying that Walter’s mother was going to die. She was very sick and he was never going to see her again. Of course, we the reader know this isn’t true and that she’s giving birth, but Walter has no idea and suddenly things start falling into place. He was sent away because his mother was dying.
When bedtime comes, he’s put in his own room and he cannot sleep. He is distraught thinking about his mother and how he’ll never see her again. So, when everyone is asleep, he gets up, puts on his clothes, carries his shoes down the stairs, and starts out for home. He walks and walks and walks and becomes terrified at every sound and shadow, but he persists. He walks for 3 hours and makes it to his house, but the doors are locked and he can’t get in, so he goes to the barn and waits to sunrise when he thinks he can get in the house. He makes it in and finds that his mother is not dead, she’s not sick, and she’s very happy to see him. And, he has a new baby sister. His mother, after hearing his tale, tells him he doesn’t have to leave the house again overnight until he is ready.
I love this. I just – I love this so much. Walter, the poet, the romantic, the weird-o, the baby. Walter, the brave, the courageous, the protector, the defender. Walter, the little boy who is loved beyond measure is able to be himself. He stands up for Alice. He stands up for his mother. He takes being teased. He knows how he is and doesn’t let the world stop him from that.
We can learn so much from Walter. When you’re whole — your heart, your soul, your strength — you can be who you were created to be, defend what you were created to defend, love what and who you were created to love, and do it all without losing yourself.
“Jesus, teach us our validation comes from you. Show us your unfailing love. Break my heart for what breaks yours. Help me be who you created me to be. Give me the courage to do the things you have in store for me.”