Over the last few weeks, the writers at Quills and Inkblotts have experienced some massive highs and devastating lows. We’ve felt the surpassing joy of a book release, and suffered the total corruption of sin in this broken world.
Pray for us, friends. We do cling to our only hope, our Savior, but sin hurts.
For now, for a moment, escape with me to another world. Relish the magic of story-telling. Allow yourself to be transported to another time and place, to forget your worries and replace them with the less costly, less personal worries of a fictional character living an exciting life.
Hear the gulls squawking in a bright, cloudless sky over the gently lapping waters of Plymouth harbor. Feel the sway of the ship, pulling constantly on its anchor chain in a current that wants its passengers out on the open sea. Smell the tar bubbling in the heat, and the reek of bodies, pressed together for too long in a space too small. See a girl, about 17, sitting comfortably on a coil of rope at the base of the mizzenmast, a young sister squirming in her lap to get down and run the length of the narrow top deck.
Our girl’s name is Mara Rivers. She’s been through a lot of hurt, some of her own making, some due to wicked people who would seek to use and discard her.
Come with me and make her acquaintance.
You have an interesting name. Tell me about it.
Yes, it’s a wonder my parents didn’t name me Mary, isn’t it? There are so many of them named just so in 17th century England. Alas, the compliant, unquestioning faith of our Lord’s mother was not to be mine. I am Mara because, as my parents portended rightly at my birth, life is full of bitterness and gall. Rivers, our family name, is an ancient English one, going back a thousand years, so they say. As you can see, that familial longevity was not enough to compel my father to stay.
What compelled him to leave?
Simply put, his stubbornness. He would not take the Eucharist from the hand of an Anglican heretic. And since our dread King James is not one to let a man do, or do not, as he wishes, my father had to make a choice: conform or be exiled. He chose exile for himself, and consequently for his wife and five children.
But you’re not alone here. Tell me, do you have a friend on the ship?
Indeed, there are others with convictions as fierce and unwavering as my father’s, though not many. Less than a hundred will set sail for reasons of biblical purity. And there is one among them, a true friend to me. His name is Finch, and who on this earth knows me better? The tantrums of my childhood, the bluster of my youth, the pride, wounded irreparably now (thanks be to God!) of my present. He sees through it all, as if I were an apparition, a vapor. I can not hide myself from him. Yet still he returns to me, a faithful friend, a loyal hound. I do not deserve it. How can I not love him for it? How can I not wish for a happier ending for us? I do. He must never know it.
What do you regret most about the way things turned out?
We Calvinists generally don’t express regret because we trust implicitly in the guiding hand of our sovereign God in both the afflictions and the joys of life. It was affliction which taught me to pay attention. True for the psalmist and true for me. I do not wish things had turned out differently. But if you must know, I was fooled by his (please don’t make me say his name) charm into thinking it was love. It was not. He didn’t even have to put forth much effort. I still burn with humiliation to think of poor Finch and the price he had to pay.
Has this changed how you feel about romance?
I suppose by romance you mean love that is uncoerced, love that woos, love that yearns, love that makes itself known at great cost. It has been my experience that this type of love causes more pain than joy. It confuses the heart. It can not be trusted. It shames, degrades, and confounds. Yet still I hope for it. There’s no help for me, I fear. I dream of it by night. It’s like a sweet elixir I can never get my fill of. I will always be a fool for romance. I have put it all aside though, to face the immediacy of myriad threats against us in the New World. It will assuredly not be a place for love.
There will be many dangers ahead for you. How have your people armed themselves to face what’s coming?
My father would say by prayer to almighty God, and I suppose he would be right. We’ll live or die in the wilderness of America according to His restraining grace. But it is His mercy, I think, to have supplied us with several good, strong men trained in musketry, and who have the countenance to carry these weapons in the New World. Pray God they do not have to be used upon human flesh.
Do you have any words for those who might come to know you through your story?
You may root for me. You may relate to me. You may understand me in ways that help you better understand yourself. But do not think too highly of me. I am just a girl who happened to come of age during an extraordinary time in the history of the church. I am just another sinner with a heart of stone. Learn from my mistakes, if you can. Do not think to repeat them and have a happy ending for yourself. Promise me you will think more highly of the Lord and His dealings with His people through my story.
Mara’s story is told in book one of my series WIP. I am working diligently to see her story through to publication.
Reader, share with us your favorite means of fictional escape. What stories do you most love to lose yourself in? Tell us in the comments.