I finished The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher this weekend and really enjoyed it. Until this year, I’ve never really read memoirs, but so far I’ve loved all (four) I’ve read! Dawn will have to recommend more to me. ;)

A little way toward living a life of love

The business done in the home is nothing less than the shaping of the bodies and souls of humanity. –G.K. Chesterton

This is my signature quote not because I think having children and being in the home all the time is always the right and only thing to do. This is my signature quote because creating and being home is one of the central roles we have as women, regardless of our station in life.

I thought this was portrayed beautifully in The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, the story of a small-town wife, mother, and public school teacher who touched everyone with whom she interacted with love and compassion. Dreher deftly showed how small acts, such as simply seeing a person, as well as more sacrificial acts, can affect another person’s whole course of life.

I had somehow come to think of her living in a small town as equivalent to her living a small life. That was fine by me, if it made her content, but there was about it the air of settling. Or so I thought. What I had seen and heard these last few days showed me how wrong I had been.

It affected me all the more because it was a year and a half ago that I went to the funeral of a wife, mom, and teacher who also touched many lives. It has been long enough that the impact her death brought home to me had faded, and it wasn’t until I turned the page to the middle insert with a photograph of Ruthie Leming and I was startled by it that I realized I’d been picturing Ruthie as my acquaintance-mentor-friend who had also lost to cancer, leaving three children and a small town’s worth of touched lives.

Ruthie's example is one of seeing that there is pain and hardship behind most flubs, rude comments, and jerky behavior. We can take offense or we can give grace. Charity is giving grace.

I was able to see the effect of Ruthie’s love, given and returned, in steadfast acts of ordinary faith, hope, and charity. The little way of Ruthie Leming is the plainest thing in the world, something any of us could choose. And yet so few of us do.

Yes, that of course is first and most often our children and husbands, but it extends to grocery store clerks, the lady in the parking lot who makes a comment that sounds rude, the annoying neighbor, and so on.

Ruthie’s example is one of seeing that there is pain and hardship behind most flubs, rude comments, and jerky behavior. We can take offense or we can give grace. Charity is giving grace.

Wherever we are called to be, whether it is a small town or medium town or big city, a land native or foreign, we serve best when we take the time to really see and acknowledge the people in front of us. I’m good at projects; I’m less good at people. But I can look into eyes and smile; anyone can.

Ruthie’s charity was not monetary but a disposition: having a charitable opinion of people. That is a charity within all our powers to give.

My Book Bag

Get more great quotes & recommendations at ladydusk’s Wednesday with Words!


  1. I think we make a great team. I can love a book, then you can read it and tell me why.

    So glad you liked it.

    How’s that chemistry book? You’re reading it with your kids?

  2. Jury is still out on the chemistry book. It’s a good idea (describe the periodic table & the elements like a geography), but it’s a bit slow, and, well, rather like the long geographically descriptive sections from novels that people generally skip. :)

    But the kids (only olders) were getting squirrelly and distracted the last two times, so that might also be tainting my opinion. :)

  3. Enjoyed your review of this book. In the past 6 months I’ve had a friend die of cancer also and then a couple of weeks ago my brother died suddenly. Both of them made their mark in little ways. My friend was a woman who served very graciously & my brother was a man who could make anyone laugh. I’d like to read the book when I’m feeling less raw. Thanks Mystie.

  4. I love your whim category. We have similar tastes! You will have to tell which book is the best practical willpower builder.

  5. I have had Dreher”s book on my tbr list for awhile now. I guess I will have to move it to the top. I am looking forward to his next book on Dante’s Comedy. I love seeing all the books that you are reading. How are you liking Wilson’s version of Beowulf?

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