Patches of Godlight: Companion Book to Jan Karon’s Mitford Years Series

Fictional Mitford

I love words. I like to write them; I like to say them, but I am much more enamored of the brilliant words of others and am therefore happy to recommend a book by bestselling author Jan Karon that is chock-full of lovely words: Patches of Godlight Father Tim’s Favorite Quotes was published in 2001 by Penguin Putnam as a companion book to the bestselling Mitford Years series which I wrote about in my post entitled: “Have You Been Home Lately: At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon”.

Karon wrote her series to “give readers an extended family, and to applaud the extraordinary beauty of ordinary lives.” Father Timothy Anthony Kavanagh, the central character in Jan Karon’s nine novels is an Episcopal priest in his sixties whose love for every soul extends far beyond the boundaries of his small North Carolina parish. Delightfully, Father Tim is intelligent and well read; within each novel his speech flows with literary quotations and references.  Now these quotations are available in one volume that whimsically creates a facsimile of Father’s Tim’s notebook written in his own hand, with typewritten notes taped askew every so often.

Patches of Godlight offers a rich word feast from a variety of thinkers, philosophers, and poets:

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person: having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them out.  Just as they are – chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” Geo. Eliot 1819-1880

“We – or at least I – shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest.  At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have “tasted and seen.” Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy.  These pure and spontaneous pleasures are “patches of godlight” in the woods of experience.”  C.S. Lewis from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer.

Jan Karon has finished writing about Mitford, so for those of us who have come to the end of the novels, this volume and the Mitford Bedside Companion help us manage our feelings of loss.  Karon advises us to create our own Mitfords: “People say to me quite plaintively, ‘Oh, how I wish Mitford could be real.’ Well, Mitford can be real. Mitford is real, but we have to do our part. Mitford doesn’t just come to us like some cute little idyllic, cozy Kincaid greeting card. We have to pitch in. We have to keep our eyes and ears and hearts open to others. We have to be willing to put ourselves out there. It doesn’t all come to us. We have to go out to it. If we go out to greet it, we will find it. Do something for somebody else. Give somebody a hug, and do it with a full heart. Listen to the humor. Watch and observe the humor in other people’s lives and in your own. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Just get out there and wade in up to your neck into that sea of humanity, which is so needy. Smile at somebody for goodness sake!” excerpted from an interview with

I love this volume of beautiful words, but I feel the need to create my own treasury of quotations so that I will not lose those that touch my mind and soul.  How do you preserve your treasured words?

The Mitford series novels in order of publication: At Home in Mitford (1994), A Light in the Window (1995), These High, Green Hills (1996), Out to Canaan (1997), A New Song (1999), A Common Life (2001), In This Mountain (2002), Shepherds Abiding (2003), Light From Heaven (2005).  The Father Tim novels: Home to Holly Springs (2008), In the Company of Others (2011)

Categories: Chick lit, Humorous, Inspiration, Read Aloud | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Patches of Godlight: Companion Book to Jan Karon’s Mitford Years Series

  1. Pingback: Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good – Jan Karon Returns to Mitford | Pineneedlesandpapertrails

  2. Sometimes you come upon a boulevard that seems full of promises and even the thought of traipsing down that path and discovering each promise on your own is relishing. Thanks for the introduction to Mitford!

  3. mel

    I just came across your blog and am happy to let you know, as I found out last week, Jan Karon is writing another Mitford novel! It’s called “Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good.” It will be released September 2nd. I am very excited to read another story in this beloved series!

  4. Somewhere in our years overseas I missed the last couple books. I need to finish them! We used to read them aloud as a family and loved them.

    • I am jealous that you have a few books to catch up on in Mitford and with Father Tim and Cynthia! Enjoy and thanks for commenting. I really enjoy hearing from you. Where were you overseas?

      • Two and a half years in Bangui, C.A.R. (much in the news now for sad reasons) and 11 years in Provence, France–a real hardship post! 😉

        • Have you written about your experiences overseas? I would be most interested. Blessings!

          • No . . . I haven’t. But it’s on my list of things to write about. 🙂 I have all the old letters I wrote to family, which they kindly saved for me. So I should be able to do something with it because I don’t have to start from scratch. Thank you for pushing it out of the recesses of my mind closer to the front!

  5. I remember reading this after I’d finished all the Mitford books. I loved it!

    • Yes! Jan Karon must have a rich literary heritage and a spiritual one, too, to have made “Father Tim” as deep and erudite as he is in the stories. I truly think I will figure out a “quote book” system…. I like paper and pen so maybe will do it the old-fashioned way vs. iphone notes or computer. What do you do?

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