I read Heidi for the first time in April. While I think I would have been more captivated with it as a young girl, I found plenty of things to enjoy now. Heidi, a little girl, comes to live with her bitter, hermit-like grandfather in the Swiss Alps above the village of Dorfli. Because of her sweetness, she gradually melts his heart into repentance for his angry, standoffish ways. Others come to depend on Heidi for companionship—Peter the goat-herder and his blind, lonely grandmother. But then Heidi’s aunt Dete takes her away to Frankfurt to be the companion to a wealthy invalid girl, Klara, who has everything but happiness and health. Her governess/nurse/housekeeper Fraulein Rottenmeier doesn’t appreciate Heidi, but she is the one in charge when Klara’s widowed father is away, thus causing Heidi some grief. Two very distinct sets of people, miles apart, love and need this little beam of sunshine named Heidi … but what does Heidi need? Will she ever go home to the mountains she pines for? And how can she help all of her friends and loved ones at once?
Heidi’s mountain home seems to embody the simple and idyllic way of life, one that many (especially we dreamy types) wish we had. Living on a quiet mountain away from the bustle, though within walking distance of a village for occasional stimulation. Few possessions, only what is needed for convenient living. Wholesome, simple food, requiring little preparation, and healthful mountain air. Breathtaking beauty every time you look outside your window. Whole days spent doing nothing but exploring nature, rejoicing in it, and watching some goats. Lots of stillness for prayer, reading, and whatever creative pursuits are yours. Ministering to those who love you and need you nearby.
Something like this is what I imagine as being in store for God’s people when the Messiah reigns in the new heavens and the new earth, when all creation shall be at peace (Isaiah 11:6-9, 65:17-25; Micah 4:4; etc.). And while it would be lovely to have it now, we aren’t necessarily promised that (John 16:33; Psalm 73; Romans 5:1-5; etc.). In fact, what makes Heidi’s idyllic mountain home so satisfying and rewarding is that she returns to it after she perseveres through an unpleasant sojourn in the city. We have work to do for our Lord and Savior and shouldn’t strive to make our earthly life a paradise at the expense of our real tasks.
So while we can’t expect a Heidi-like, perfect existence in the here and now, I think we can use the spirit in which she lived her life as inspiration to make our sojourn on this earth more in line with God’s ideals, thus making it easier for us to serve Him. Things like living our lives for others’ sakes and helping those in need. Simplifying—discovering, like Heidi did, the truly essential things in life and concentrating on them. (I read Heidi during a time when I was sorting through clutter, and the contrast between her life and mine, how she had to spend very little time taking care of physical stuff, was more than a little convicting.)
I love it when a book speaks to my life! What fictional book have you read recently that impacted your life? And if you’ve read Heidi, what did you think of it?