Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference.” Jane Austen, Prayer 1, Minor Works 454
Jane Austen’s prayers give wonderful insight into her values for living and aspirations for interactions with her “fellow-creatures”. Whether one shares her Christian faith or not, I think her desire to be more thankful in Prayer 1 has resonance for this strange year. This is a year in which many things that we took for granted suddenly became of central importance. I am thankful for having food to eat, shelter, good health, and ways to connect with those I love, even if I cannot see them in person. I am thankful for the work of all those who keep our everyday lives running—those who staff the stores, work in the hospitals and clinics, care for loved ones, produce our food, deliver mail, and move goods around. I am consciously trying to be more grateful each day for the small things—a hot cup of tea, the sound of a loved one’s voice, a walk outside–and to acknowledge those big blessings in my life.
I am also grateful for Jane Austen. Reading Jane Austen helps me to find some sense of calm when everything seems upended. Each time I re-read one of her works I re-discover some new treat of phrasing or characterization. It has been a joy to connect with people who love Jane as much as I do either on social media or through our region’s Zoom meetings. Our region is very spread out geographically, so it is a celebration for all of us to gather together on Zoom and be joined by people from around the country and Canada. I enjoyed being able to attend the JASNA virtual Annual General Meeting in October and watch the videos throughout the month. We even had JASNA president Liz Philosophos Cooper come to our virtual tea in May. If there is one upside to things going online, it is the ability to participate in Jane Austen events worldwide and meet fans from all over.
I am also thankful to the people who make our region special. Amy Lyons formed the region with me in 2017 and was a Regional Co-Coordinator for three years. Jane Provinsal is our current Regional Co-Coordinator and does an amazing job running our social media. Cassandra Bates is our treasurer and party-planner extraordinaire. Debra Peck is our secretary and is so generous of her craft and sewing talents for our events. Our members engage in dynamic discussion of all things Jane Austen. It has been a pleasure to be able to host more frequent events thanks to Zoom and get to know people better. Most of our events are free and open to anyone, so we hope you will join us at our events.
Michele Larrow, Regional Co-Coordinator