Today I'd like to introduce you to two of my heroes who have influenced not the way I write, but the way I try to live. Though divided by countries and centuries, they have a lot in common...
You may be familiar with Corrie ten Boom, the author of The Hiding Place. During the Nazi occupation of Holland, she and her family harbored Jews in a secret room in their home—saving the Jews, but landing themselves in prison. Ever since I first read her story, I've been amazed by this woman's courage, faith and ability to face trial with a sense of humor. It forces you to rethink the way you live, where you place your priorities...and to remember to smile even when the world is in a shambles.
And speaking of “shambles,” that word originally referred to a street in Yorkshire, England, where the madly arranged Tudor buildings create a picturesque disarray. This street was the home of my other hero for today, Margaret Clitherow. In the reign of Elizabeth I, when any Roman Catholics who tried to practice their religion were executed, Margaret hid priests in a secret room in her home. Even before this was discovered, she had been arrested several times for failure to attend the Church of England services, and had used her time in solitary confinement to teach herself how to read and study. When it was discovered, she was sentenced to one of the worst deaths allowable by law: being slowly crushed under a door weighted down with hundred of pounds of rocks. While she was being led out to her death, she made her fellow prisoners laugh by making shadow pictures of gallows on the cell wall. That's what I call putting things in perspective.
The lessons both these women taught me: Be fearless in protecting the persecuted. And remember to smile.