Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Let my heart be broken: C.S. Lewis' "The Four Loves"

Life this summer has become a swift monotony. Every day melts into the next as the humid heat seems to sit heavy on time itself.

The miracle of summer, of course, is the transfiguration of the Cold. Once guarded against with coats and scarfs, it is pursued, courted -- dare I say, worshiped. The extra time granted by summer is spent on watery pilgrimages to lakes and rivers. Men, women, and children perform the primitive dance around the lawn as the sprinkler keeps time.

Between dips in the pool and glasses of iced tea, I have also been blessed with time to refresh my mind as well as my body, taking Mr. Darcy's advice to "improve (my) mind by extensive reading."

Most recently I completed C.S. Lewis' "The Four Loves." As many better pens have spoke before mine, it was brilliant. I know it is a work I will revisit over and over again.

I could write innumerable blog entries and try to paraphrase Lewis' prose, or I can simply share a taste by his own hand.

I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God's will than a self-invited and self-protective lovelessness. It is like hiding the talent in a napkin and for much the same reason "I knew thee that though wert a hard man." Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness. If a man is not uncalculating towards the earthly beloveds whom he has seen, he is not the more likely to be so towards God whom he has not. We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.

How many of us have shied away from loving fully, afraid of the pain our intellects assure us we will experience? How many of us have picked our friends based on emotional security? How many of us have dwelt on the edge of community out of fear?

How many hungry have we failed to fill with kindness? How many thirsty have we failed to pour into? How many strangers have we left on the front porch of our hearts? How many cold have we failed to clothe with love?

I am so thankful my God allowed His heart to be broken by me.

God, let my heart be broken.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Road: Would I have made the world just so?

"When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different." Cormac McCarthy, The Road.

As I sat on the futon, watching the browns and grays of The Road flash in high-definition into my living room, I was pulled once again into the creative imagination of the Cormac McCarthy. The best and worst of humanity brilliantly displayed in the novel moved in drab color across the screen. Beauty. Sorrow. Love. Hate.

Hope, when there should be none. And faith.

In almost musical tones, Viggo Mortensen, as "the man," narrates the film with versions of McCarthy's original lines.

In one moving seen, he strokes his wife's hair as she sleeps in the car and says, "If I were God, I would have made the world just so and no different."

As my eyes took in the story, my mind turned around these words.

How often have I hinted at the opposite in my heart?

Often, I've felt like the man in film when he says, "Each day is more gray than the one before. Each night is darker -- beyond darkness. The world gets colder week by week as the world slowly dies."

Surely, God created good, but we destroyed it. The light seems to be fading, and the shadow seems to grow.

How often have I been blinded to the lingering beauty of the good creation by fixing my eyes on what might have been?

In The Road, McCarthy shows how goodness can thrive amidst ugliness and depravity. The image of God, surviving in the love between father and son, shines into the darkness and creates beauty where there was none.

It is true that there is ugliness in the world. It is true that darkness threatens at the edge of light.

But it is also true that God has not allowed His good creation to be wholly destroyed. Our Father gave His son -- who took on the frailty of creation -- to offer us hope.

Through the ugliest act in history, the most beautiful love was displayed.

And so, God began to bring goodness back to His creation. He gave us strength to light up the darkness. He allows us to be His hands and feet, pouring out beauty where ugliness abounds.

The world will never be fully restored until He returns, but He has not left us without goodness.

If I were God, I would have made the world just so and no different.