Mister God, This is Anna

by Fynn

I just picked this book up from the Springvale library today (August 12th, 2000). I was not aware of this book until a few days ago when I visited a website where there is a list of "The most inspirational books of all-time" - click here to see the list. You can also vote for your own personal favourite. Ironically, one of my favourites, Conversations with God rates second only to the bible. It is ironic because one could call this book 'Conversations with Mister God'.

Okay, to the book itself ...

Introduction

by Vernon Sproxton

There are good books, indifferent books, and bad books. Amongst the good books some are honest, inspiring, moving, prophetic and improving. But in my language there is another category: there are Ah! Books. This is one of them. Ah! Books are those which induce a fundamental change in the reader's consciousness. They widen his sensibility in such a way that he is able to look upon familiar things as though he is seeing and understanding them for the first time. Ah! Books are galvanic. They touch the nerve centre of the whole being so that the reader receives an almost palpable physical shock. A tremor of excited perception ripples through the person.

Ah! Books don't come all that often, at least not my way. Andre Malraux's The Psychology of Art was one of them. It was published just after the war. It was too expensive to buy but I located a copy of this luminous book in the Manchester Art Gallery; and i had to make several journeys by motor-cycle, often through sleet and snow until I had finished it. From time to time I wanted to get up on the table to proclaim its truth to all around me, or slap my next-desk neighbour over the back and say, 'There you are; just get hold of that!' Once I nearly did but just in time I noticed he was reading a text on the structure of plastics. By now, of course, I know that some people can get as much aesthetic pleasure out of contemplating the formula for a long molecule as others do from beholding a mural by Piero della Francesca. Technologists have their Ah! Moments too!

Ah! Books give you sentences which you can roll around in the mind, throw in the air, catch, tease out, analyse. But in whatever way you handle them, they widen your vision. For they are essentially Idea-creating, in the sense that Coleridge meant when he described the Idea as containing future thought - as opposed to the Epigram which encapsulates past thought. Ah! Books give the impression that you are opening a new account, not closing an old one down.

So for me, at any rate, this is an Ah! Book, and has been since the manuscript first came my way; from the very first sentence, too. "The diffrense from a person and an angel is easy. Most of an angel is in the inside and most of a person is on the outside." A few seconds' thought and then - the tingle in the mind. ... That was a sentence which gave a fresh look to holiness.

... There were a few pages hesitantly and anonymously offered by a friend of the author who wished to remain humbly and unobtrusively in the background. But these were enough to show that, whoever he was, the writer, though by no means an accomplished literary man, had a quick eye for the human scene, a warm regard for his fellows and, above all, a mind of great originality which appeared to have either escaped from or never been subjected to the processing which normally marks people who write on such matters. I read those first few pages over and over again until I was pursued by Flynn and Anna as a kind of literary puzzle. I tried to write an Identiwrit picture of the author and his background: a man certainly thinking his way through to the frontiers of thought; a scientifically trained parson or a theologically astute scientist; in any event someone who was attempting to communicate a message of some sort, and was finding that purely logical forms would not bear the burden of his meaning; an inventor of a mini-myth. For Alice in Wonderland read Anna in Bethnal Green. Whoever he was, the few dog-eared pages sharpened the appetite for more. I could hardly wait for following chapters, which arrived in dribs and drabs, and I began to feel for all the world like the young T.B. Macaulay walking from London to meet the Cambridge coach bearing the next instalment of Waverley novels. There grew in me a mastering curiosity to meet the author, if only to confirm my guesses.

We met. And I was wrong - at least in large part. Fynn disguise nobody but Fynn. At the time of writing I have known him for a couple of years. But there is another way in which I have known him all my life. For there is about him that transparent vulnerability which makes for a total and immediate correspondence with anyone who is prepared to throw prejudices to the wind and celebrate life as a lump of mysterious and joyful awe. But all the speculation about a trained scientist or theologian with imaginative leanings and communications was pretty well wide of the mark. Fynn, thank God, was not trained as either of these. Intelligent to the eyelashes and with a gargantuan appetite for knowledge, Fynn was early advised to eschew (may his adviser rest in peace) universities and other institutions for the purveying of processed thought. Some of his most formative thinking took place far from the quads and colleges and punted rivers amongst the small streets, warehouses, and canals of the East End. But with his modest job and his Woolworth's do-it-yourself labratory he produced thought to which few PhD's have approximated. Fynn has produced something qualitatively different from PhD-thinking and which would probably not have emerged if during those critical years he had had to attend twice-weekly tutorials on logical positivism which was then raising its airy-fairy head.

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... And then he started discussing people who were maladjusted or had fallen on hard times and with whom he had worked for a large chink of his life. And he did so with such deep insight and total acceptance that his attitude could only be described as love. As I watched and listened my mind began to search around for some historical person of whom he reminded me: who had also had little formal education, and whose feminine and masculine streaks co-existing made an inner dialectic which produced a creative vitality. At last, as the night folded us in a brotherhood of discussion and debate, the name dropped out of the memory. It was that of Leonardo da Vinci.

Fynn has suffered: suffered not only physically, mentally and emotionally; but has also suffered spiritually in that total solitariness, isolation and abandonment which, however close one's friends and relatives may be, becomes a terrifying experience for the lonely being. The men of the Middle Ages were right to describe it as the 'long, dark night of the soul'. Fynn is still partially disabled from a psycho-physical injury. But he is now in the process of throwing away his crutches with an almost insolent, hilarious impudence, relying on his own grit and gumption, and the grace and goodness of his fairly recently acquired wife. And all this makes Fynn the sort of person who gives you the impression that though he has been tossed about by life his feet have firmly touched bottom.

So Fynn is the author of this book; and he is who he was, and who he is. He is pretending to be nobody other than himself. But a very real and permanent part of his being is - Anna.

... But Anna ... she was qualitatively different, and she had me puzzled, not so much because of her flamboyant precociousness, but because I needed a good deal more documentation of her uniqueness. To begin with, I found it hard to believe that anyone could have existed at that age who was so untouched by the constraining type of education available at that time, and whose precocity took the form of devastating challenges to the received way of construing things; and more so, when her nascent philosophy went to the heart of some problems of spiritual perception and the nature of being which are precisely contemporary.

... But these problems began to resolve themselves as soon as I met Fynn. There is another quality about him that transcends his masculinity and femininty; the only word I can use to describe it is Innocence. No doubt he is touched by the many things frail flesh is heir to. He is not amongst the ever-sanctified. But there is about him a touch of that engaging, wide-eyed, winsome innocence which mankind must have had before the Fall and which would permit a youth and a young girl to snuggle up in bed together in a way which was completely innocent of any sexuality. In fact the simple honesty of their relationship reminded me of the practices of the subintroductae - those virgins who slept with early Christian fathers without intercourse taking place.

If Fynn needed Anna, Anna also, and just as specifically, needed Fynn. ... Even so, some readers may remain incredulous. They will ask, 'Is it true?' Now I happen to believe it is true in the way they are asking the question. Bu then I know Fynn. I have seen the documents in the case: the notes, the drawing, the essays, the music.

What is Truth? Pilate raised the question and wisely declined to answer it, realising no doubt that all political truth is necessarily tainted. But Kierkegaard did make an attempt at answering the same question; and many people have found it satisfying as a rough-and-ready measure for that kind of truth which cannot be measured on the laboratory bench. The truth, he wrote, is what ennobles. It is, in other words, that which makes you a better being. It is in that realm that the truth of Mister God, This is Anna is finally to be found. It is an ennobling tale which greatly widens our perception and touches the heart. And it does so in a way that defies the processes of logic. We cannot find words to explain how it works its spell. 'Not everything has a name. Some things lead us into the realm beyond words ... It is like that small mirror in the fairy tales - you glance in it and what you see is not yourself; for an instant you glimpse the Inaccessible, where no horse or magic carpet can take you. And the soul cries out for it.'

This book has the same kind of transporting magic. Fynn and Anna, with their mirror-book and all their other simple impedimenta, allow us to glimpse the Inaccessible. They would never have won a Nobel prize for literature They do, however, make me congratulate myself on having joined the human race. Above all they put back the Ah! into that mixture of mess and marvel which makes the mystery of our mortal life.


{Well, I had a quick look at the book on the train back from the library and had at least intended to trancribe the intro as above and the first couple of pages and the summary off the back cover ... but before I get to any of that I opened the book at 'random' as is my habit and this is what met my eyes ... }

Page 171 -

Her ability to ignore the excesses of information, dismiss the useless frill and uncover the heart of things was truly magical.

'Fynn, I love you.' When Anna said that, every word was shattered with the fullness of meaning she packed into it. Her 'I' was a totality. Whatever this 'I' was for Anna it was packed tight with being. Like the light that didn't fray, Anna's 'I' didn't fray either; it was pure and all of one piece. Her use of the word 'love' was not sentimental or mushy, it was impelling and full of courage and encouragement. For Anna, 'love' meant the recognition of perfectibility in another. Anna 'saw' a person in every part. Anna 'saw' a 'you'. Now that is something to experience, to be seen as a 'you', clearly and definitely, with no parts hidden. Wonderful and frightening. I'd always ubderstood that it was Mister God who saw you clearly and in your entirety but then all Anna's efforts were directed to being like Mister God, so perhaps the trick is catching if only you try hard enough.


From the rear of the book -

Fynn found Anna wandering the streets of London in the 1930's and unable to discover where she lived, took her home to live with his mother.

Fynn would spend his evenings talking and playing with Anna. They chatted about life, particularly science and mathematics, and Anna would tell him about her conversations with 'Mister God', to whom she poured out all her thoughts and troubles. Anna's innocent but insightful world-view caused Fynn to re-assess his own.

Mister God, this is Anna - an all-time classic - is the story of Anna's short life and the liberating effect she had on her friend Fynn.


Now to the book itself -

Chapter One

"The diffrense from a person and an angel is easy. Most of an angel is in the inside and most of a person is on the outside." These are the words of six-year-old Anna, sometimes called Mouse, Hum or Joy. At five years, Anna knew absolutely the purpose of being, knew the meaning of love and was a personal friend and helper of Mister God. At six Anna was a theologian, mathematician, philosopher, poet and gardener. If you asked her a question you would always get an answer - in due course. On some occasions the answer would be delayed for weeks or months; but eventually, in her own good time, the answer would come: direct, simple and much to the point.

She never made eight years, she died by an accident. She died with a grin on her beautiful face. She died saying, 'I bet Mister God lets me into heaven for this', and I bet he did too.

I knew Anna for just about three and a half years. Some people lay claim to fame by being the first person to sail around the world alone, or to stand on the moon, or by some other act of bravery. All the world has heard of such people. Not many people have heard of me, but I too have a claim to fame; for I knew Anna. To me this was the high peak of adventure. This was no casual knowing; it took total application. For I knew her on her own terms, the way she demanded to be known: from the inside first. 'Most of my angel is in the inside', and this is the way I learned to know her - my first angel. Since then i have learned to know two other angels, but that's another story.

My name is Fynn. Well, that's not quite true; my real name doesn't matter all that much since my friends all called me Fynn and it stuck. ... My great delight was to roam about dockland in the night-time, particularly if it was foggy.

My life with Anna began on such a night. I was nineteen at the time, prowling the streets and alleys with my usual supply of hot dogs, the street lights with their foggy haloes showing dark, formless shapes moving out from the darkness of the fog and disappearing again.

In those days, children wandering the streets were no uncommon sight. I had seen such things before but this time it was different. How or why it was different has long since been forgotten except that I am sure it was different.

... So very many times over the next three years i heard her laughter - no silver bells or sweet rippling sounds was her laughter, but like a five-year-old's bellow of delight, a cross between a puppy's yelp, a motor-bike and a bicycle pump.

I put my hands on her shoulders and held her off at arm's length, and then came that look that is entirely Anna's - a mout wide open, eyes popping out of her head, like a whippet straining at a leash. Every fibre of that little body was vibrating and making a delicious sound. Legs and toes, arms and fingers, the whole of that little body shook and trembled like Mother Earth giving birth to a volcano.

Outside that baker's shop in dockland on a foggy November night I had the unusual experience of seeing a child born. After the laughter had quietened off a bit, but while her little body was still thrumming like a violin string, she tried to say something but it wouldn't come out properly. She managed a "You - You - You -'

After some little time and a great deal of effort she managed 'You love me, don't you?'

Even had it not been true, I could not have said 'No' to save my life; true or false right or wrong, there was only one answer, I said 'Yes'

She gave a little giggle, and pointing her finger at me, said, 'You love me', and then broke into some primitive gyration around the lamp-post, chanting 'You love me, You love me, You love me'

Five minutes of this and she came back and sat down on the grating. 'It's nice and warm for your bum, aint it?' she said.

... The next hour was filled with giggles and hot dogs, ginger-pop and chocolate raisins. The occasional passer-by was yelled at: 'Oi, Mister, he loves me, he do'

About ten-thirty that evening, whilst she was sitting between my knees having an earnest conversation with Maggie, her rag doll, I said 'Come on, Tich, it's about time you were in bed. Where do you live?'

In a flat, matter-of-fact voice she exclaimed, 'I don't live nowhere. I have runned away.'

'What about your Mum and Dad? I asked.

She might have said the grass is green or the sky is blue. What she did say was just as factual and effortless. 'Oh she's a cow and he's a sod'. And I aint going to no bleeding cop shop. I'm going to live with you.'

This was no request but an order. What could you do? I merely accepted the fact. 'Right, I agree. You can come home with me and then we will have to see.'

At that point my education began in earnest. I'd got myself a large doll, but not an imitation doll, a real live one and, from what I could make out, a bomb with legs on.

'What is your name, Tich?' I asked her.

'Anna. What's yours?'

'Fynn' I said. 'Where do you come from?'

I didn't get an answer to this question and it was the first and last time she didn't answe a question. I gathered later the reason for this. It was because she was afraid I might have taken her back.

'When did you run away?'

'Oh, three days ago, I think.'

... But Anna sat and grinned, a huge face-splitting grin. Like some beautiful sprite she sat there, and I believe for the very first time in her life she was entirely and completely happy.

... In the midst of it all sat the little princess, clean and shining. This little thing had the most splendid, the most beautiful copper coloured hair imaginable, and a face to match. No pianted cherub on some church ceiling was this child, her face alight with some inner radiance, her eyes like two blue searchlights.

Earlier in the evening, I had said 'Yes' to her question 'You love me, don't you?' because I was unable to say 'No' Now I was glad I was unable to say 'No' for the answer was 'Yes. Yes. Yes.' How could anyone fail to love this little thing?

... 'Aint you gonna say your prayer?' she asked.

'Well, yes,' I replied, 'when I ge to bed.'

'I want to say mine now with you', she said. So we both got down on our knees and she talked while I listened.

I've been to church many times, and heard many prayers, but none like this. I can't remember much about her prayer except that it started off with 'Dear Mister God, this is Anna talking', and she went on in such a familiar way of talking to Mister God that I had the creepy feeling that if I dared look behind me he would be satnding there. I remeber her saying, 'Thank you for letting Fynn love me', and I remember being kissed goodnight but how I got to bed I don't know.

... I said 'Hi, Tich'

'Can I get in?' she asked in a whisper - she didn't wait for my 'If you want to', but slid in beside me and buried her head in my neck and cried silently, her tears warm and wet on my chest. There was nothing to say, nothing to do but to put my arm around her. I didn't think I would sleep, but I did. I awoke to the sound of stifled giggles, Anna still beside me giggling like a fiend, and Carol, already dressed, standing there giggling, with a morning cup of te in her hand. All this in less than twelve hours.

Chapter Two

... Our street was a nice street. Nobody had any money but in all the years I lived there, I can never remember anyone's front door being shut in the daytime, or, for that matter, for most of the night either. It was a nice street to live in and all the people were friendly, but after a few weeks of Anna the street and the people in it took on a buttercup glow.

Even our boss-eyed cat, Bossy, mellowed. ...

Anna's ability to polish any situation was truly extraordinary. She had the uncanny knack of doing the right thing at the right time to get the most out of an occasion. I've always thought that children ran towards those they love, but not Anna. When she saw me she started to walk towards me, not too slowly, but not too quickly. My first sight of her was too far away to distinguish her features; she might have been any other child, but she wasn't. Her beautiful copper hair stood out for miles, there was no mistaking her.

After her first few weeks with us, she always wore a deep-green ribbon in her hair for this meeting. Looking back, I feel sure that the walk towards me was deliberate and calculated. She had grasped the meaning of these meetings and seen almost instantly just how much to dramatise them, how to prolong them in oreder to wring out their total content. For me, this minute or two of walk towards her had a rounded-off perfection; no more could be added to it, and nothing could be taken away without completely destroying it.

Whatever it was she projected across that intervening space was almost solid. Her bobbing hair, the twinkle in her eyes, that enormous and impudent grin, flicked like a high-voltage charge across the space that separated us. Sometimes she would, without any words, just touch my hand in greeting. Sometimes the last few steps transformed her, she let everything go with one gigantic explosion, and flung herself at me.

... Mum and Anna shared many likes and dislikes. Perhaps the simplest and most beautiful sharing was their attitude towards Mister God. Most people I knew used God as an excuse failure. 'He should have done this' or 'Why has God done this to me?' But with Mum and Anna difficulties and adversities were merely occasions for doing something. Ugliness was the chance to make beautiful. Sadness was the chance to make glad. Mister God was always available to them. A stranger would have been excused for believing that Mister God lived with us, but then Mum and Anna believed he did. Very rarely did any conversation exclude Mister God in some way or other.

After the evening meal was finished and all the bits and pieces put away, Anna and I would settle down to some activity, generally of her choosing. Fairy stories were dismissed as mere pretend stories. Living was real and living was interesting and by and large fun. Reading the Bible wasn't a great success. She tended to regard it as a primer, strictly for infants. The mesage of the bible was simple and any half-wit could grasp it in thirty minutes falt! religion was for doing things, not for reading about doing things. Once you had got the message there wasn't much point in going over and over the same old ground. Our local parson was taken aback when he asked her about God. The conversation went as follows:

'Do you believe in God?'

'Yes.'

'Do you know what God is?'

'Yes.'

'What is God then?'

'He's God.'

'Do you go to church?'

'No.'

'Why not?'

'Because I know it all.'

'What do you know?'

'I know to love Mister God and to love people and cats and dogs and spiders and flowers and trees,' and the catalogue went on, '- with all of me.'

Carol grinned at me and Stan made a face and I hurriedly put a cigarette in my mouth and indulged in a bout of coughing. There's nothing much you can do in the face of that kind of accusation, for that's what it amounted to. ('Out of the mouths of babes ... ') Anna had bypassed all the non-essesntials and distilled centuries of learning into one sentence - 'And God said love me, love them, and love it and don't forget to love yourself.'

The whole business of adults going to church filled Anna with suspicion. The idea of collective worship went against her idea of private conversations with Mister God. As for going to church to meet Mister God, that was preposterous. After all, if Mister God wasn't everywhere, he wasn't anywhere. For her, the church-going and 'Mister God' talks had no necessary connection. For her the whole thing was transparently simple. You went to church to get the message when you were very little. Once you had got it, you went out and did something about it. Keeping on going to church was because you hadn't got the message, or didn't understand it, or it was 'just for swank'

{That's only as far as page 29 out of 183. If you're not completely 'sold' by this stage there's no hope for you. Besides, there are limitations to reading off a computer screen. Makes it hard to curl up in bed or in front of a fire. Not to mention the fact I have no intention of transcribing the entire narrative so you won't quite get the same 'feel' as having the book in your hands. Not to mention the delightful drawings dotted throughout the book. Who knows, you may find it in you local library.}

... One of the kids said, 'How many times does it flap its wings in a minute?'

'Must be millions', said another kid.

Anna dashed indoors humming a low-pitched hum. I was sitting on the doorstep. With a few quick prods at the piano she had identified the note, her hum and the drone of the bee. Coming to the door again, she said, 'Can I have your slip-stick?' (referring to a slide rule - in the days before PC's and calculators) In a moment or two she shouted out, 'A bee flaps its wings such-and-such times a second.' Nobody believed her, but she was onkly a few counts out.

... 'Mister God made everything, didn't he?'

There was no point in saying anything that I didn't really know. I said 'Yes'.

'Even the dirt and the stars and the animals and the people and the trees and everything, and the pollwogs?' The pollywogs were those little creatures that we had seen under the microscope.

I said, 'Yes, he made everything.'

She nodded her agreement. 'Does Mister God love us truly?'

'Sure thing', I said. 'Mister God loves everything.'

'Oh', she said. 'Well then, why does he let things get hurt and dead?' Her voice sounded as if she felt she had betrayed a sacred trust, but the question had been thought and it had to be spoken.

'I don't know', I replied. 'There's a great many things about Mister God that we don't know about.'

'Well then,' she continued, 'if we don't know many things about Mister God, how do we know he loves us?'

I could see this was going to be one of those times, but thank goodness she didn't an answer ot her question for she hurried on: 'Them pollywogs, I could love them till I bust, but they wouldn't know, would they? I'm million times bigger than they are and Mister God is millions times bigger than me, so how do I know what Mister God does?'

She was silent for a little while. Later I thought that at this moment she was taking her last look at babyhood. Then she went on:

'Fynn, Mister God doesn't love us.' She hesitated. 'He doesn't really, you know, only peole can love. I love Bossy, but Bossy don't love me. I love the pollywogs, but they don't love me. I love you, Fynn, and you love me, don't you?'

I tightened my arm about her.

'You love me because we are people. I love Mister God truly, but he don't love me.'

It sounded like a death-knell. 'Damn and blast', I thought. 'Why does this have to happen to people" Now she's lost everything.' But I was wrong. She had got both feet planted firmly on the next stepping-stone.

'No', she went on, 'no, he don't love me, not like you do, it's different, it's millions of times bigger.'

I must have made some movement or noise for she levered herself upright and sat on her haunches and giggled. Then she launched herself at me and undid my little pang of hurt, cut out the useless spark of jealousy with the delicate sureness of a surgeon.

'Fynn, you can love better than any of the people that ever was, and so can I, can't I? But Mister God is different. You see, Fynn, poeple can only love outside and can only kiss outside, but Mister God can love you right inside, and Mister God can kiss you right inside, so it's different. Mister God aint like us; we are a little bit like Mister God, but not much yet.'

It seemed to me to reduce itself to the fact that we were like God because of some similarities but God was not like us because of our difference. Her inner fires had refined her ideas, and like some alchemist she had turned lead into gold. Gone were all the human definitions of God, like Goodness, Mercy, Love and Justice, for these were merely props to describe the indescribable.

'You see, Fynn, Mister God is different from us because he can finish things and we can't. I can't finish loving you because I shall be dead millins of years before I can finish, but Mister God can finish loving you, and so it's not the same kind of love, is it? Even Mister Jether's love is not the same as Mister God's because he only came here to make us remember.'

...

'There's another way Mister God is different.' We obviously hadn't finished yet. 'Mister God can know things and people from the inside too. We only know them from the outside, don't we? So you see, Fynn, people can't talk about Mister God from the outside; you can only talk about Mister God from the inside of him.'

Another fifteen minutes or so were spent on polishing up theese arguments and then, with an 'Isn't it lovely?' she kissed me and tucked herself away under my arm, ready for sleep.

About ten minutes later: 'Fynn?'

'Yes?'

'Fynn, you know that book about four dimensions?'

'Yes, what about it?'

'I know where number four is; it goes inside me.'

...

Anna walked like a pro, jumped like Bambi, flew like a bird, and balanced like a daring tight-rope walker on the curbs. Anna copied her walk from Millie, head held high, the slight sway of body making her skirts swing, a smile on her face, a twinkle in her eye, and - you were defenceless. People looked and people smiled. Of course people smiled, they couldn't help it. Anna was a burst of sunlight after weeks of gloom. Anna was completely aware of these glances from passers-by, occasionally turning her head to look at me with a big, big grin of pleasure.

...

It was towards the end of this first summer that she made two most startling discoveries. The first was seeds - that things grew from seeds, that all this beauty, these flowers, these trees, this lovely grass came from seeds, and moreover that you could actually hold these seeds in your hands. The second major discovery was writing, that books and writing in general had a much more exciting aspect to them than merely being the machinery for telling stories. She saw writing as a portable memory, as a means of exchanging information.

...

This activity of collecting seeds was one that I saw thousands of times; never once was she violent with any seed pod, and on each and every occasion came the moment of decision" 'Have I taken too many?' 'Are enough left?' Sometimes the decision could only be made after a careful inspection of the seed pods. If she decided she had taken too many she would then proceed to portion out thos seeds she had collected, sprinkling very carefully some portion back on the land again. Mister God went up about ten points in her estimation with regard to these seeds as she said, 'Aint Mister God wonderful!'

Anna was not only deeply in love with Mister God; she was proud of him. Anna's pride in Mister God grew and grew to such dimensions that in some idiot moment I wondered if Mister God ever went pink with pleasure. Whatever feelings people have had about Mister God over the centuries, I'm very sure of one thing, nobody has ever liked Mister God more than Anna.

Anna's other major discover of that summer grew into a very complex activity, for our house suddenly blossomed with little blue notebooks and slips of paper. When confronted with something new, Anna would accost the nearest passer-by, and hold out notebook and pencil, with a 'Please write that down big, please.'

Chapter Three

Many and many an evening I would be sittin on the steps smoking a fag and watching her ask people to 'write it down big', enjoying her search for knowledge. One particular evening, after a row of refusals by passers-by, Anna began to sag. I reckoned it was about time to dish out a few words of comfort. I levered myself off the steps and crossed the road to her.

She pointed to a broken-off stump of an iron railing. 'I want somebody to write about that, but they don't see it.'

'Perhaps they are too busy', I suggested.

'No it aint. They don't see it. They don't know what I mean.'

This last reply was uttered with a kind of deep and inward sadness; it was a sentence that I was to hear more and more. 'They don't see it. They don't see it.'

I had read the disappointment on her face and knew what to do = or thought I knew. This was the kind of situation that I figured I could handle. I picked her up and held her close to me.

'Don't be too disappointed, Tich'

'Not disappointed. Sad.'

'Never mind,' I said, 'I'll write it down big for you.'

She wriggled herself out of my arms and stood on the pavement, her hands fiddling with the notebook and pencil, head bowed and with tears on her cheeks. My mind raced around in circles. A number of methods of approach jostled each other. Just as I was about to 'put it all right again' that passing angel fetched me a crack on the skull again. So I remained silent and waited. She stood there im utter dejection. I knew for certain, I told myself, knew for certain that she wanted to run to my arms , knew that she wanted comforting, but she just stood there wrestling inwardly. Trams clanked on their way, people shopped, barrow-boys shouted their wares, and there we stood, me fighting against picking her up and she staring at some new picture painted on her mind.

At last she looked up and her eyes met mine. It suddenly got cold and I wanted to hit somebody. I knew this look, I had seen it before in other people and it had happened to me more than once. Like some monstrous iceberg appearing out of the fog the word formed, welling up from deep inside me, haloed with tears but none the less clear to see. Anna was mourning. All the doors of her eyes and heart stood wide open and that lonely cell of her inmost being stood plain to see.

'I don't want you to write nuffink.' She tried out a smile but it didn't work too well, and with a sniff she continued, 'I know what i see and I know what you see, but some people don't see nuffink and - and -.' She threw herself into my arms and sobbed.

On that evening in a street in east London, I stood with a child in my arms and looked into that lonely cell of humanity. No book-learning, no lecture has shown me more than those few moments. Lonely the cell may be, but dark never. It wasn't dark behind those tear-filled eyes, but a blaze of light. And God made man in his own image, not in shape, not in intelligence, not in eyes or ears, not in hands or feet, but in this total inwardness. In here was the image of God. It wasn't the Devil in humanity that makes man a lonely creature, it's his Godlikeness. It's the fullness of the Good that can't get out or can't find its proper 'other place' that makes for loneliness.

Anna's misery was for others. They just could not see the beauty of that broken iron stump, the colours, the crystalline shapes; they could not see the possibilities there. Anna wanted them to join with her in this exciting new world but they could not imagine themselves to be so small that this jagged fracture could become a world of iron mountains, of iron plains with crystal trees. It was a new world to explore, a world of the imagination, a world where few people could or would follow her. In this broken-off stump was a whole new realm of possibilities to be explored and to be enjoyed

Mister God most certainly ebjoyed it, but then Mister God didn't at all mind making himself small. People thought that Mister God was very big and that's where they made a big mistake. Obviously Mister God could be any size he wanted to be. 'If he couldn't be little, how could he know what it's like to be a ladybird?' Indeed, how could he? So, like Alice in Wonderland, Anna ate of the cake of imagination and altered her size to fit the occasion. After all, Mister God did not have only one point of view, but an infinity of viewing points.

(I ought to type more of this section - page 49 - but you know me ... I may or I may not get around to it ... in fact the next 20 or so pages 'flew by' as Anna & Fynn discuss 'pieces of glass' and 'in my middle' and language and the nature of God and being frightened ... all highly intriguing stuff ...)

Chapter Four

The hoarding down the Broadway displayed in large red lettering: 'Do you want to be saved?' I wondered just how mnay people would say 'Yes' to that. Had it read 'Do you want to be safe?' millions of people would have said, 'Yes, Yes, Yes, we want to be safe', and another barricade would have gone up. The soul is imprisoned, protected, nothing can get in to hurt it, but then it can't get out either. Being 'saved' is nothing to do with being 'safe'. Being 'saved' is seeing yourself clearly. No 'bitsa coloured glass', no protection no hiding, simply seeing yourself. Anna never said anything about being saved, never to my knowledge attempted to save anybody. I don't suppose she would have understood this way of putting things, for this was my interpretation. But Anna knew full well that it was no use playing things safe, you simply had to 'come outside' if you wanted to make progress. 'Coming outside' was dangerous, very dangerous, but it had to be done. there was no ohter way.

...

The other problem was, what exactly was Anna? A child certainly, a very intelligent and a very gifted child, but what was she? Everybody who came into contact with Anna recognised in her some strangeness, something that marked her as different from other children. 'She's fey', said Millie. 'She's got the "eye"', said Mum. 'She's a bloody genius', said Danny. The Rev, castle said, 'She's a very precocious little girl'. This certain strangeness in Anna gave some people an uneasy feeling, but her innocence and sweetness acted like a balm, soothing away suspicions and fears. Had Anna been a mathematical genius all would have been well; she could have been written off as a freak. Had she been a musical prodigy, we could have all cooed with delight, but she was neither of these things. Anna's strangeness lay in the fact that her statements were so often right. One of our neighbours was quite convinced that Anna could see into the future.

... Certainly Anna had a gift but it turned out to be nothing spooky, nothing out of this world. In a very deep sense it was at once as mysterious as it was simple. Anna could see pattern where others saw just muddles, and this was Anna's gift.

...

Now Anna accepted the concept of the atom as easily as a canary accepts bird-seed, accepted the size of the universe and its billions of stars without batting an eyelid. Anna knew full well that numbers have the capacity for going on and on and on. Anna soon ran out of words to express very large numbers, and this was becoming more and more important. The word 'millions' was adequate for most things, 'billions' came in handy on occasions but if you wanted to use a word for a very, very large number, well, you just had to invent one. Anna invented one, a 'squillion'. A 'squillion' was a very elastic sort of a word; you could stretch it as far as you liked. Anna was beginning to have need for such a word.

...

I suppose it was at that point that my education began in earnest. For quite some time I just didn't know which way was up or down or if i was coming or going. I had been taught the good old-fashioned method of question first, answer second. Now I was being taught by a half-pint red-headed demon that almosy every sentence, grunt, number or utterance was the answer to an unuttered question.


Update Aug 25 -

I apologise for the slackness of transcribing these excerpts - I have yet to actually finish the book and have started another "Who Are You?" - plus a NetNation conference - plus a trip to the snow today where I got the chance to read pages 86 to 145 despite a case of car-sickness and the day was very enjoyable tobogganing down Lake Mountain ... I can tell you that if the above hasn't already 'sold' you on getting/reading the book ... it gets even better and I shall not be typing it all ...

Here's a few quick picks from today -

Page 93 -

Over the last few months, it had begun to dawn on me that Anna's real concern had very little to do with properties. Properties had the rather stupid habit of waiting upon circumstances. Water was liquid, except that is, if it was ice or steam. Then the properties were different. The properties of dough were different to the properties of dough or bread. It depended on the circumstances of the baking. Not for one moment would Anna have consigned properties to the dustbin. Properties were very useful, but since properties depended on circumstances, the roadway in pursuit of properties was unending. No, the proper thing to pursue was functions. Being outside Mister God and measuring him gave you properties, seemingly an unending list. The particular choice of properties that you made produced that particular kind of religion that you subscribed to. On the other hand, being inside Mister God gave you the function; and then we were all the same: no different churches, no temples, no mosques etc. We were all the same.

{May type up more of this later ...}

Page 110 -

(Could transcribe a huge chunk of this chapter ... but it remains to be seen if I do ...) ... It's all pretty obvious, so obvious that it would take an idiot not to see it. We all know that Mister God made man in his own image and images are found in mirrors. Mirrors turned you back to fron or left to right. Images were 'take-away' things. So, putting it all together, Mister God was and is on one side of the mirror, Mister God was on the 'add' side. We were on the other side of the mirror, so we were on the 'take-away' side.

... 'Take-away' people live in holes ... some big, some little, all with different names ... Greedy, Wicked, Cruel, Liar etc. On our side of the looking glass the whole place was littered with holes of various depths with people living at the bottom. On Mister God's side were various piles with names such as Kindness, Generosity and Truth. The more you filled up your holes, the closer you got to Mister God's side of the mirror ... You'll understand, of course, that Mister God looks into his mirror and sees us all, but we can't see Mister God. As Anna said, 'Your face reflection can't see you, can it?'

Mister God was never far from any conversation, and Mister God was certainlt getting more and more amazing. The fact that he could listen to, let alone understand, all the different prayers in all the different languages was something to marvel at, but even this paled into insignificance in comparison with the stack upon stack of miracles Anna was discovering. Perhaps the most miraculous of all the miracles was that he had given us the capacity find out and to understand these miracles.

... then a section on the Sunday School Teacher is well worth typing up at some stage ...

Then Page 125 & 126 on dimensions and shadows and numbers ...

And Page 134 on questions and answers and church and questions that 'don't land anywhere' ... and the paintings of angels and cherubs and their senses ...

Page 135 - Rev. Castle talked about 'seeing' God, about meeting him 'face to face' in a sermon one Sunday morning. In a whisper that echoed around the church, Anna said 'Wot the 'ell he gonna do if Mister God aint got no face?' ... 'Mister God aint got no face because he don't need to turn around.' ...

'Well', she said, 'I've got an "infront" and I've got a "behind" so I have to turn around to see what's behind me. Mister god don't.'

'What's he do then?'

'Mister God's only got an "infront", he aint got no "behind"'

'Oh', I nodded, "I see.'

The idea of Mister god having no "behind" struck me as deliciously funny and I tried hard to supress the giggles. I didn't manage it. I exploded.

Anna was a bit puzzled at my outburst

... 'Mister God aint got no bum' sang Anna to the tune of 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. The frowns turned to scandalised looks of horror.

... 'Mister God aint got no bum' wasn't a joke, she wasn't being naughty or just a silly child. It was an eruption of her spirit. With these remarks she hurled herself at Mister God and he caught her. Anna knew that he would, knew that ther was no risk involved. There really was no other way. It just had to be done. This was her way of being saved.

... more that could be transcribed ... on death and funerals and humour ...


Page 145 -

That night, after Skipper's funeral, I was woken by a cry of despair from behind the curtains. I went to Anna and I cradled her in my arms. A nightmare was my first thought, or perhaps grief for Skipper. I rocked her gently in my arms and made those kinds of noises that 'made it all right agaim'. I was holding her tightlty for comfort but she fought her way out of my arms and stood on the bed. I was a bit scared and lost at this turn of events and didn't quite know what to do. I lit the gas. Something seemed to go bad inside me. Anna was standing on the bed, her eyes wild and wide, tears streaming down her cheeks, both hands pressed over her mouth as if to stifle a scream. It seemed as if all the familiar objects inthe room suddenly raced away to infinity and the world dissolved into formlessness.

I tried to say something but nothing came. It was one of those senseless moments; my mind was racing around in circles but my body wasn't in gear. I tried to do something but my body was frozen. What really frightened me was that Anna didn't see me, I wasn't there for her. I couldn't help her. I cried; I don't know if I cried for her or myself. Whatever the reason. the miseries took over. Suddenly out of my tear-filled void I heard Anna's voice.

'Please, please, Mister God, teach me how to ask real questions. Oh please, Mister God, help me to ask real questions.'

For a moment of eternity I saw Anna as a flame and shuddered as I grasped the uniqueness of being me. How I managed that moment I shall never know for my strength was not equal to that moment. In some strange and mysterious way I 'saw' for the first time.

Suddenly there was a hand on my face, soft and gentle. A hand wiping away my tears and a voice saying, 'Fynn, Fynn,' The room began to reassemble again, things were once more.

'Fynn, wot you crying for?'

I don't know why, perhaps it was just plain fear, but I negan to swear, coldly and efficiently. Every muscle in my body ached and trembled. Anna's lips were on mine, her arm about my neck.

'Don't swear, Fynn, it's all right, it's all right.'

I was trying to make some sort of sense out of that awful and beautiful moment, trying to get back to normailty again; it was like climbing down an unending ladder.

Anna was talking again. 'I'm glad you came, Fynn', she whispered. 'I love you, Fynn.'

I wanted to say 'Me, too', but nothing happened.

In some curious way I seemed to be facing two ways at once. I wanted to be back among the familiar objects that i knew so well and at the same time I wanted to expereince that moment again. From the middle of my fog of confusion I realised that I was being led back to bed, utterly exhausted. I lay there, trying to make some sense of it all, trying to find some starting-point from which i could begin to ask questions. But the words didn't seem to fit together in any reasonable pattern. It was a cup of tea in my hand that started the world turning again.

'Drink it, Fynn, drink it all up.'

Anna was sitting on the bed wearing my old blue sweater over her pyjamas. She had made the tea, hot and sweet, one for each of us. I heard the scrape of a match on the matchbox and Anna's splutter as she lit a fag for me and stuck it between my lips. I got myself up on my elbow.

'What happened, Fynn?' asked Anna

'God knows,' I said. 'Were you asleep?'

'Been awake for a long time.'

'I thought you were having a nightmare', I muttered.

'No,' she smiled, 'I was saying my prayers.'

'The way you was crying - I thought -'

'That why you cried?'

'I dunno. I suppose so. It sort of got kind of empty all of a sudden. It was funny. I thought I was lookin' at myself for a moment. Painful.'

She didn't answer for a moment and then very quietly she said, 'Yes, I know.'

I was too tired to prop myself up any longer and suddenly I found myself with my head resting on Anna's arm. It didn't seem right, it ought to have been the other way around, but it wasn't and i realised that I liked it, it was what i wanted. We stayed like that for a long time but there were questions I wanted to ask her.

'Tich,' I said, 'what were you asking God about real questions for?'

'Oh, it's just sad, that's all.'

'What's sad?'

'People is.'

'I see. What's sad about people?'

'People ought to get more wise when they grow older. Bossy and Patch do, but people don't.'

'Don't you think so?'

'No. People's boxes get littler and littler.'

'Boxes? I don't understand that.'

'Questions are in boxes,' she explained, 'and the answers they get only fit the size of the box.'

'That's difficult; go on a bit.'

'It's hard to say. It's like - it's like the answers are the same size as the box. It's like them dimensions.'

'Oh?'

'If you ask a question in two dimensions, then the answer is in two dimensions too. It's like a box. You can't get out.'

'I think i see what you mean.'

'The questions get up to the edge and then stop. It's like a prison.'

'I expect we're all in some sort of prison.'

She shook her head. 'No. Miater God wouldn't do that.'

'I suppose not. What's the answer then?'

'Let Mister God be. He lets us be.'

'Don't we?'

'No. We put Mister God into little boxes.'

'Surely we don't do that?'

'Yes, all the time. Because we don't really love him. We got to let Mister God be free. That's what love is.'

Anna searched for Mister God and her desire was for a better undersatnding of him. Anna's search was gay, earnest but ligh-hearted, reverent but impudent, and single-minded and multi-tracked. That one and two made three was for Anna a sign that God existed. Not that she doubted God's existence for a moment, but it was for some time a sign that he did exist. By the same token, a bus or a flower was also a sign that he existed. How she came by this vision of the pearl of great price I do not know. Certainly it was with her before I met her. It was just my luck that I happened to be with her when she was doing her 'working out'. To listen to her was exhilirating, like flying on one's own; to watch her was to be startled into seeing. Evidence for Mister God? Why, there was nowhere you could look where there wasn't evidence for Mister God; it was everywhere. Everything was evidence of Mister god and it was at this point that things tended to get out of hand.

The evidence could be arranged in too many ways. People who accepted one sort of arrangement were called by one particular name. Arrange the evidence in a new way and you were called by a different name. Anna reckoned that the number of possible arrangements of the available evidence might easily run into 'squillion' of names. The problem was further complicated by the fact of synagogues, mosques, temples, churches, and all the other different places of worship, and scientific laboratories were not excluded from the list. By any reasonable standards of thinking and behaviour nobody could, with their hand on their heart, honestly say that these other people were not worshipping and loving God, even if they did call him by some other name like 'Truth'. She could not and would not say that Ali's God was a lesser kind of God than the Mister God that she knew so well, nor was she able to say that her Mister God was greater or more important than Kathie's God. It didn't make sense to talk about different Gods; that kind of talk inevitably leads to madness. No, for Anna it was all or nothing, there could be only one Mister God.

{May type more later ... final 30 pages of the book ... comparing different faiths with piano chords ... their night-time excursions beautifully described ... the characters they met ... comparing poetry with sewing ... God and light - inside you and outside you ... circles and dots representing internal and external 'reality' and the world of imagination ... late night encounters with the police ... and befuddling them with her theories about the universe within & without ... the wartime bombing raids ... her thoughts on love and "I am" ... her death after falling from a tree ... a truly extraordinary book - I would recommend it to anyone who has an open mind and heart or who wishes to have them ...)

More to come ... or you could just go out and get the book and read it yourself ... :)


Last update - August 25th. Send me an email if I forget to add to this file - I'm currently updating a few things at my site. (Such as surya.htm & tenzin.htm & vicserv.htm to name just a few) Or you could simply go out and buy the book or you might find it at your local library.

Mister God, this is Anna by Fynn. ISBN 0 00 627891 4

First published 1974 by William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd, London

My copy was published by Fount Paperbacks which is part of Harper Collins Publishers

Introduction by Vernon Sproxton


Other sites with quotes or excerpts or reviews of Mister God, this is Anna -

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Spirit Song has a very eclectic collection of quotes

Dear Mister God

Ed's book review

From the Deepak Chopra Forum, there is another site called www.bestinspiration.com - where people can vote for their favourite book or movie or quote etc ...




       

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