Recalled to Life

“Buried how long?”

The answer was always the same. “Almost eighteen years.”
“You had abandoned all hope of being dug out?”
“Long ago.”
“You knew that you were recalled to life?”
“They tell me so.”
“I hope you care to live?”
“I can’t say.” 

If you don’t like book spoilers, you might say, “Fiddle-dee-dee,” and skip this post. It includes a spoiler for A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens—at least the first part of the book.

Last chance to depart before I launch into the rest of the post. . . .

If you’re still here, there’s a method to my madness, so please bear with me.

In Dickens’s saga of life before and during the French Revolution, the lines you read at the beginning of the post are an imagined conversation between Mr. Jarvis Lorry, an English banker, and Monsieur Manette, a former prisoner of the Bastille. But at this point in the narrative, this bit of dialogue is very mysterious. Recalled to life? What could that mean? Abandoned all hope? Isn’t that reminiscent of a sign hanging on the gate of hell in Inferno, the first part of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri? The allusion to the sign is appropriate, given the circumstances of this story.

Imagine being an innocent person placed in a dank prison and completely forgotten about for eighteen years. That was Monsieur Manette’s plight. Now imagine being freed from prison and reminded that your life isn’t as limited and dark and miserable as evil could shape it. That’s what being “recalled to life” means in this book. Mr. Lorry’s task was to remind Monsieur Manette of what life he still had with a daughter who’d believed him dead.

Monsieur Manette—Doctor Manette, actually—was a broken man, dashed on the rocks of discouragement due to the cover up of a crime which led to his long imprisonment. He’d even forgotten the sound of his own name. But after his release from prison, his life began to change once he reconnected with his family and his identity.

I won’t get into all of the ins and outs of the terrible crime and how Dr. Manette was caught up in the evil of others’ making. You can discover those as you read the book. But the phrase recalled to life resonated with me, hence this post.

Every day, when we open our eyes at the start of the day, we’re recalled to life. For some of us, maybe we don’t want to be recalled to the same old circumstances—the same old limited life. If you’re like me (and I hope you aren’t), you tend to focus on the negative—what others (including yourself) have told you might be “true” of your life: that you’re a failure who will never accomplish anything worthwhile. That you’ll always be broke or tired or miserable or hungry or thwarted or second-best or rejected or washed-up or ____________ (fill in the blank with whatever that little voice tells you; you know the one). Sentiments like that are as much a prison as the Bastille.

Maybe like me—like Dr. Manette—you need to be recalled to life—to the truths that bring life to you. What’s true about you?

You’ve got an imagination.
You’re one of a kind.
You’re a masterpiece.
You’ve got a second chance or a third or a fourth.
You’ve got skills.
You’ve got a story to tell.
You’re not hopeless.
You’re not defeated.

Right? Now go out and live that truth. Live like someone recalled to life. Because you are.

Like Mr. Lorry, I ask, “I hope you care to live?”


Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. New York: Bantam Classic Edition, 1981. First published in 1859.

Gerbera daisy from

30 thoughts on “Recalled to Life

    • True, Andy. I often have to be recalled to the present, because my mind wanders in some conversations. But for parents, aunts, uncles, and others with children in their lives, it is a good reminder. Kids grow up so fast. Enjoy them now.

  1. L.Marie — I feel as if you were talking directly to me. Thank you for the reminder of this gift we are given every single day and for the reminder that Dicken’s is pretty awesome!

    • Next to Little Dorrit, this is my favorite of his. And as I was replying to Sharon, my own mindset is in need of resetting. I’m reminded of that verse, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).

  2. What a lovely, uplifting post, Linda! It’s easy to focus on the negative in today’s info-stuffed, fast-paced world, isn’t it? This post reminds me that life is about more than the negatives or even the positives that fill our days. It’s about riding above these flip-floppy moments and staying true to the potential of each new day.

    • Very nicely put, Sharon. I’m speaking to myself mainly and my critical mindset, which clearly needs to end. But yes, riding above the flip-floppy moments is crucial. Because they will come. I think of those as bends in the river. Do we let the current take us, or try to push against them?

  3. I love that phrase “Recalled to life”. I really must read more Dickens. I’ve only read Great Expectations. Anyway, I tend to focus on the negative, too. I blame it on perfectionism. But lately I’ve been trying to imagine that everything I want to accomplish will take twice as long as I think it will. It really helps to allow myself to be slow and not focus so much on what I haven’t accomplished. Does that make sense?

      • Okay, that was an awesome post/quote! I never thought about the different kinds of perfectionism before, but it makes sense to focus more on internal perfectionism, like striving for excellence. I tend to get caught up in external things like worrying what people will think of my writing or comparing myself to other people. Just need to ignore those tendencies!

    • Thank you! 😀 Great Expectations always makes the list of required Dickens books. But this one does it for me every time!

    • Glad to do so, Andra! And I’m glad to find someone else who loves that book. So many people talk about Great Expectations. I have nothing against it, but I prefer A Tale of Two Cities.

  4. Pingback: Blogger Quote of the Week – L. Marie | Melissa Janda – A Time to Write

Comments are closed.