In Brief: It Made My Heart Thump: Rebecca’s Letters from Iran, 1951–1953

Edited by Os Cresson. Morning Walk Press, 2019. 284 pages. $16/paperback.

This book is based on the letters and other writings of the author’s mother, and are yet another glimpse into the stories of Quaker lives, this time with numerous photos from the family’s collection. Os Cresson has edited three books covering his family’s life abroad in the period after World War II. Cresson’s parents, Rebecca and Osborne, were Quakers, but they were not missionaries. They worked at an international school during the time they lived in Iran, having found this way to lend their hands to the creation of a more peaceful world, with tolerance for others based on real understanding grounded in relationships with unfamiliar people. What a good idea, to say the least!

Cresson was a child when his family lived in Iran and earlier in Afghanistan. With the stories that his mother took down and his father’s photographs, he provides a record to be shared. The postwar world was characterized by an ebullient hopefulness that is sorely lacking in today’s weary world, where we are encouraged to suspect our neighbors rather than get to know them. The Cresson family was probably an unusual sight in Iran in the 1950s, when local people previously might not have seen outsiders, whose ways were doubtless very strange to them. These stories are a reminder of how fresh it can be to delight in simply getting to know people.

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