Wednesday, February 8, 2012

something more stern and splendid

"What does not satisfy when we find it was not the thing we were desiring."
--Pilgrim's Regress

Dear Lord:

Thank you for the gift of C.S. Lewis. You did a really stellar job with him. He's a winner, that's for sure.

In class, we just finished reading The Pilgrim's Regress, which I never really loved. But now that I re-read it in the context as Lewis' fictionalized account of his own conversion, it makes me the happiest. It is the story of a soul who seeks Joy. Who seeks something beyond the far reaches of the world. It's a tale of wanderlust, desire, and the story of how you can run away from God, but if you are seeking happiness, you'll find yourself bumping into Him at every corner. Because all those substitutes for the happiness that God offers leave the soul feeling cheated and faded.

"Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

--The Weight of Glory

How fickle my heart and woozy my eyes, sings Mr. Mumford and his sons. And how true. What should be at the center of our lives is desire. Overweening and unquenchable desire for our beloved. Auntie Seraphic recently wrote in a brilliant post:

Love," I said, "is when you hate being on the wrong side of the ocean from someone because you are haunted by the fear that you might not be able to get back on the right side, or that he might not be able to get back to you."

"Love is also when you are sitting in your parents' house across the ocean for a month waiting for your temporary Spousal Visa, and you cry every day because you are on this side of the ocean and he is on that side of the ocean, and what if a volcano blows up and you can't get back? And it hurts and hurts and it sucks but that is the price you pay for love and it is worth it."

Love is also being happy most of the time you are around the beloved. When you are truly in love, you love almost everything about the beloved, including his country and his family and his friends and his ties and everything that reminds you of him, and because you are surrounded by all these reminders, you are generally very happy, and people feel happy around you because your happiness leaks out by osmosis.

I recognize that this is a lot for the Single readers to take on board, but I am writing it out for you to read because our societies are so in love with love that we are willing to take a chance on counterfeits and squint intellectually, or take off our emotional glasses, so that the counterfeit SEEMS like what I have just described. We WANT to be in love, so we IMAGINE ourselves into it, and when we feel terrible because the man we are "in love" with is a jerk, we rationalize that by saying "Well, love is pain."

But love is only pain when you are separated from the beloved, not when you are around him.

We are currently on the opposite side of the ocean. And we are longing to cross the sea.

1 comment:

  1. Renee, this is GORGEOUS. I read that Auntie Seraphic post too and didn't even make the connection. What a beautiful way to apply that passage!

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