"Christy" by Catherine Marshall

Christy is based on a true story from one year in the life of a youngwoman-the author's mother.

At the age of 19 Christy volunteered to teach in a one-room school in apoverty-stricken area in the mountains of Tennessee. During the trainride from her affluent home in Ashville, North Carolina, Christyreflects on her decision to leave home:

It was only at Montreat last summer that I discovered that my attention was not so hard to get after all. Now I guessed that somewhere-out there-there was something exciting about religion which had not come through to me in my church back home. And I sensed that I could have sat in the Huddleston family pew every Sunday until I was an old lady, and it would not have been any different. That was why I had to leave, explore for myself-'Life piled on life.'

It was 1912-before World War I. The outside world had not yet reachedinto the mountain regions of Tennessee. I'll let Christy tell you inher own words:

It was as if, in crossing the mountains with Mr. Pentland, I had crossed into another time, another century, back to the days of the American frontier. Ours was the century of progress, everyone said-electric lights and telephones and steam locomotives and automobiles. Yet in this cove it was still the eighteenth century.

Christy had been very sheltered at home. In Cutter Gap she encounterssuch extremes of life that she did not know existed. There were somevery bright students who were willing to walk barefoot several miles inorder to attend the school and learn. Yet there was also suchdebilitating ignorance, superstition, feuding, poverty and killing. Shewould have given up and ran home home except that she very much wantedto help these people. And she wanted to be near Miss Alice-a Quaker ladywho came from Pennsylvania several years earlier and started threemission schools. Christy says, "Where else can I find a teacher likeMiss Alice?"

I have to admit, I admire Miss Alice also and enjoy spending time withher through Christy's eyes. Let me share Christy's thoughts during oneof her encounters with Miss Alice:

There was something else I noticed too: an initial acceptance of herself as she was and so of other people with their foibles. And so she did as little scolding or criticizing of others for their foolish behavior or their sins as anyone I had ever known. It was not that she was willing to compromise with wrongdoing or poverty or ignorance, just that she was a long step ahead of wasting energy on fretting. And she never put pressure on the rest of us to accept her opinions. The secret of her calm seemed to be that she was not trying to prove anything. She was-that was all. And her stance toward life seemed to say: God is-and that is enough.

A few years ago there was a television series based on Christy. Irefused to watch the series because it was so different from the book.The characters didn't fit my mental image-Christy was tall, not short;and I could hardly recognize David or Miss Alice. The TV series includescontroversial issues that are not in the book-women's lib, racerelations, the environment. A couple of years later I bought the videosfrom that TV series. They are good in their own right, and I highlyrecommend them as well.

I have read Christy several times over the last 20 years and havenever failed to be challenged to renew my outlook on life, people,faith. I hope you will read it and that it will become a favorite withyou as well.

Similar Posts

Return to blog