This summer, I decided it was time to try reading a chapter book aloud to my oldest child. He is four-years-old…and he’s a boy. I knew that it would be a struggle to get through a few pages each night, but I thought it would be worth the effort in the end. We picked up a classic, Charlotte’s Web, and plunged in together.
There were days we would read one page and call it quits. There were the same questions asked over and over again (ie— “Who is Fern Arable?” EVERY SINGLE NIGHT). There were moments of restlessness that boy parents completely understand. But after a few weeks, we finished the book. I can truly say that I am glad we did.
Because of our journey through E.B. White’s classic, beautiful truths were embedded in our hearts from some unlikely new friends. Here are three that we uncovered together:
We are made for relationships.
In a world that is more connected and isolated at the same time, it was a great reminder that God built us for relationship. My kids need to hear this over and over again…actually we all do. What better way to be reminded of this truth than through story? E.B. White centered his story on two unlikely companions who become a beautiful picture of what friends should be. Wilbur and Charlotte may not have a lot in common, but they enjoy being together. They share meaningful conversations. They make sacrifices for each other. As the world around us becomes more isolated, we need to lean into stories that point us back to the way we are created. We are created to be together. To love others. To intertwine our stories with the stories of others.
One of the most famous quotes from the book has to be a conversation that sums up the relationship Charlotte and Wilbur have:
“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
Humility should define who we are.
Charlotte writes many wonderful things in her web about Wilbur. She tries to build him up to be “Some Pig”, but at the end of the day, it is Wilbur’s humility that makes him the wonderful pig that he is.
Let’s face it. Pigs are not TERRIFIC and they aren’t RADIANT. Charlotte may try to convince us and the spectators that travel to the farm that Wilbur is amazing, but he’s a pig. And pig’s stink. They wallow around in mud and eat garbage. Yet, E.B. White saved the best description of Wilbur for the main event. HUMBLE. Humility is what saved his life. Wilbur recognized that his salvation wasn’t in anything that he had done. His salvation came from a spider who loved him.
Wilbur blushed. But I’m not terrific Charlotte. I’m just about average for a pig.
We need more humility in our world. We need more people who live their lives like a pig named Wilbur. We need an understanding that our own salvation doesn’t come from what we can do for ourselves but instead comes from someone who sacrificed it all to save us.
Life is short. Make the most of it.
Towards the end of the book, (SPOILER ALERT) Charlotte realizes that she won’t be around much longer. Her days on earth are coming to an end. She tells Wilbur:
After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die.
Yet, Charlotte’s life has been so much more. She has lived her life to the fullest, and gave everything she had for her friend. I pray that my four-year-old will live his life the same way. Acknowledge the shortness of life. Know that the next day isn’t promised. BUT make the most out of the time you have. Be Brave. Stand for what is right. Sacrifice for others. That is what life (as short as it may be) is all about.
For now, it’s on to the next chapter book with my son. But, we will not forget the pig and spider who became friends. How could we when my son now tries to befriend every spider, convinced that it is Charlotte?