"The Hand May Be a Little Child's"

The Hand May Be a Little Child's

Silas and Eppie

In high school, I had to memorize several hundred lines of poetry or prose each year. I did not enjoy that academic task while in high school. I did not like the process of memorizing the lines and then standing in front of the teacher reciting them. Additionally, I thought that I knew what the writer meant in the line that I memorized. One of the great benefits of growing old is that of facing the reality that you did not know as much about life as you thought you did decades before.

For example, George Eliot, which was the pseudonym for Mary Ann Evans, wrote a novella entitled Silas Marner. Eliot published it in 1861, precisely a century before I stood in front of Mrs. Davis to recite this passage from Silas Marner. Even though I did not enjoy the memorizing process, I thought that I got Eliot's message.

In old days there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now. But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child's.

However, a half century after high school, I realize that I did not come close to understanding what Eliot meant. Nonetheless, I get it now. Eppie came into the life of Silas Marner, and in that process, changed who he was. That small child "led him away from threatening destruction." Little children can do the same for each of us. Trust me; I know that firsthand. It intrigues me how little children teach, guide, and redeem us, which is a juxtaposition from what we normally think. We think that we are the instructors and the change agents for children. That is not always the case.

This is a video of the movie, Silas Marner, with Ben Kinsley as Silas Marner.

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