Song of the Lark

Thea shrugged. “Oh, I can get along, in a little way.” She looked intently out of the window at the arc streetlamp that was just beginning to sputter. “But it’s silly to live at all for little things,” she added quietly. “Living’s too much trouble unless one can get something big out of it.”

Dr. Archie rested his elbows on the arms of his chair, dropped his chin on his clasped hands and looked at her. “Living is no trouble for little people, believe me!” he exclaimed. “What do you want to get out of it?”
. . .
“I only want impossible things,” she said roughly. “The others don’t interest me.”

— from Song of the Lark by Willa Cather, 1915

Deeply moved by the above passage, I intend to think it through. Thea is frustrated with life at this point. She has returned home to Moonstone after her first term in Chicago. She finds herself at loose ends because she does not feel accomplished enough for Chicago, and she also does not fit in with her family anymore. She has that burning restlessness within her that won’t leave her heart alone. She wants only impossible things.

I felt concern reading this because I sympathize with this sort of passion and I also felt it too selfish to be a good attitude for a Christian. Calling a certain type of person “little people” would then set me apart and above them, right? Not exactly how God wants us to think. And yet, passion can be God-given. There are people (I call them the even-keeled folks) who step through life without many deep passions to throw them off their path. And then there are people who get tossed about by their own heart-fevers, striving desperately for this one thing, crushed when it becomes an impossible thing. I think it is wise not to dismiss either type of people. They both go about accomplishing God’s purpose. The accomplishing is more brutal for some than others. I might wish sometimes to be an even-keeled person, easily living day after day. But in the end, how can I resist being a Thea, longing for the impossible, knowing I must go for it anyway? The end might be the same for both types of people, but a passionate person will feel everything, even satisfaction, with more intensity.


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