I want to tell you a story about the wonders of the internet when it comes to finding books. Many years ago I was in a religious book store, and I was passing the time waiting while my parents shopped by reading the picture books. I found one about an acrobat who wanted to serve God, and somehow it stuck in my mind…but that was almost all that stuck–certainly no title or author name.
I was thinking about that book recently, and went hunting on Amazon for a religious book about an acrobat. Within a matter of minutes I had found Tumbler by Liz Filleul, which I am 98% sure is the same book I read all those years ago–and as good as I remembered it.
Tumbler is about Tristan, a talented acrobat who travels with a troupe of minstrels in medieval France. Everyone loves watching him, but Tristan himself admires the monks he sees helping the poor. He believes that they’re doing work that’s really serving God. When Tristan injures his leg one day and can’t do his acrobatics, he decides to join a monastery, believing that’s the best way to serve God. Tristan turns out to be very unsuited to monastic life…and eventually realizes that doing what he does best is the best way to serve God.
I love the message in this book that everyone has a different purpose. Think of it as a way to serve God or as a life calling or as what we’re each meant to do. It’s not the same for everyone, and there isn’t any one right way to live, or one right thing to do. I also love it that Tristan realizes he doesn’t have to force himself down a path–the right path for him is the one he already loves.
I’m reminded of a quote from L. M. Montgomery, in a letter to a friend who must have been questioning his own calling: “I do not think that you need feel worry because the line of work you take up may not be the highest. It may not be the highest absolutely but–for you–it is the highest relatively. The work God gives us to do and fits and qualifies us for doing must I think be our highest.”
I always like stories about following dreams and finding a purpose, and Tumbler is a simple, beautifully illustrated, profound story about exactly that.