Anne of Green Gables: Mistrusting Sunshine

[Marilla was] always slightly distrustful of sunshine which seemed to her too dancing and irresponsible a thing for a world which was meant to be taken seriously.

Page 5

Like Mrs. Lynde, Marilla, too, has good intentions: propriety, order, decency, responsibility, decorum. There are certain things in life which just seem to be an affront to the Almighty. Because God is serious, life should be serious—all of life and the sun. Well, the sun didn’t always cooperate. 

Habit and rearing can be wonderful things: “Raise up a child in the way he should go … .” But that is true for good and ill. Marilla was marinated in staid seriousness and the flavor remains. Despite the overwhelming evidence of nature—and the anomaly that is Anne—Marilla distrusts what her eyes see—but sunlight is not corporeal, so does it get a pass?

Dancing light is not firm, Word-of-God solid. One can hardly build on the ephemeral. How can doctrine, thus life, be catechized when the irresponsibility of sunshine keeps blinding us to our duties and tasks? 

I am sure to Marilla’s mind, the dancing sunshine was little different than Anne’s imagination—something that hinders from the task at hand. To stop and marvel at the dance meant time wasted from cooking, cleaning, making, and mending—the real creative tasks man was meant to engage in.

And yet: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God … Day to day pours forth speech … .”

Maybe sunlight is not so irresponsible as it is mysterious. Maybe the “dancing” light is not so wicked as it is just joyous. Maybe Marilla’s uncomfortableness with how God’s creation looks like something she disapproves of in flesh and blood should be a reminder that creation is complex and mysterious and not easily captured or tamed by rules and rote. 

Anne was not changed so much by rules as by love. It is not that Marilla is all wrong and that her adherence to the seriousness of life is misguided. It’s not either/or. The both/and of God’s unchanging law and his creation of dancing sunlight is a reminder that we must make room for the mystery without abandoning the truth. 

Sunlight is not irresponsible. But it does dance, and it is to be taken seriously—both as that which can blind a foolish eye and which is necessary for life but which also dances across the waters and plays on a forest floor in a breezy spring reminding us of our finiteness as we gaze on another manifestation of the mystery of God. 

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