From this World to that which is to Come,
by John Bunyan.
This classic in Christian and English literature is familiar to you, I'm sure. It became a standard reference for students, and many of the English classics, like Little Women, refer to it. For now, I am re-reading some of the old devotional classics, favorites I read years ago. This copy, retrieved from someone's discard pile on its way to the thrift store, is missing its publication date, but the inscription in the front is dated June 1st, 1909.
As First Prize
in Spelling Class 'A'
By [her teacher]
June 1st, 1909"
Somewhere in Oklahoma, in 1909, a young woman studied hard at her spelling and won this book, which I now hold in my hands, as her reward. There is no town of Chickasaw listed for Oklahoma. The Chickasaw Tribe was one of the five Indian nations given territory in what is now Oklahoma, which became a state in 1907. Perhaps Miss Ida was from one of the families who settled in the Oklahoma Territory in the late 1800's. Or, was she a young Indian, learning English in a tiny prairie schoolhouse?
I love the evidence that she read and turned each page, marking favorite lines as she progressed through the book.
This paragraph is from the Memoir of John Bunyan, by George Offor, in the front of my book.
"In The Pilgrim's Progress, the world has acknowledged one train of beauties; picture after picture, most beautifully finished, exhibiting the road from destruction to the celestial city; our only difficulty in such a display being to decide as to which is the most interesting and striking piece of scenery. The learned have ransacked the literature of all ages and countries to find the storehouses from whence these ideas were drawn. But vain have been their researches. Human wisdom is humbled before an unlettered artizan who never felt his own brilliant allegorical powers. His soul had been baptized into Scriptural truths conceived in the imagery of the Bible. His whole mind was deeply tinted with the sublime scenery of Job, of Isaiah, of our Lord, and of all the inspired penmen. This alone was his ample storehouse. The researches of nearly two centuries have proved the truth of his perfect claim to originality."
As I slowly read through the book, a few pages each morning, I think of Ida and hope she found her way to the celestial city as she traveled through life, ending her journey in this world with the assurance of knowing the world which is to come.