One of my great delights is to browse bookshops. The use of my Kindle and online browsing has dented the frequency with which I seek out that pastime, but I still enjoy it and, just occasionally, I find a really interesting book in a secondhand bookshop. One such that I discovered a good number of years ago now is Christopher Milne’s The Enchanted Places.
Christopher Milne is the original Christopher Robin of the Winnie the Pooh stories written by his father, A. A. Milne. Winnie the Pooh is one of the really enduring childhood characters and still holds a place alongside the more modern variants.
In The Enchanted Places Milne describes many of the locations and toys that inspired the Winnie the Pooh stories and reflects on his childhood and the influences and impact of the fame that his father achieved.
It is interesting that much of the book is about his relationship with his father. In many ways it is a good relationship that he describes; but that doesn’t prevent him movingly writing at one point: “People sometimes say to me today: ‘How lucky you were to have had such a wonderful father!’ imagining that because he wrote about me with such affection and understanding, he must have played with me with equal affection and understanding. Can this really be so totally untrue? Isn’t this most surprising? No, it is not really surprising, not when you understand. There are two kinds of writer. There is the writer who is basically a reporter and there is the creative writer. The one draws on his experience, the other on his dreams. My father was a creative writer and so it was precisely because he was not able to play with his small son that his longings sought and found satisfaction in another direction. He wrote about him instead.”
Relationships are fascinating. They are the very stuff of life. And they come, of course, in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. But one thing that all relationships have in common is that communication is integral. It may be the communication of the slanging match. That’s a relationship of sorts. It may be the communication of cold aloofness. That, too, can be a relationship. It may be the communication of bitterness or hatred. It may be the communication of care, concern, encouragement, inspiration. But, without communication of some sort, however weak or however strong, there can’t be a relationship. Relationships, of all sorts, are crucial for us all, and that includes our relationship with God – and this book reminded me of that.