“Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger.”-C.S Lewis
If you have ever spent a night, or many nights, with uncertainty about what you might eat or where you might sleep and you come into a season of life when such comforts become consistent…you could choose to simply be grateful and live from that place of gratitude, or you could choose to become fearful and live from that place of clinging. It looks very different for each of us and I would not grade those choices as I have probably tried on several of them. There are many kinds of suffering, but I am reading about one kind of suffering which is the kind that purports to have the power to actually remove pain and bring peace. Mostly, I think I struggle with calling it suffering, or sacrifice at all. The pain only comes when we choose to respond to whatever popular judgement is projected our way…when we do not fit into some socially accepted conformity. And even with that conformity there are still too many choices which don’t fall under the category of divine sacrifice…too many distortions of a single truth. Since God is big, He has also taught us that the spiritual truth for each of us is very different and falls according to our growth. Spiritual growth and the work it comes with are like shoes for a growing child..we all wear different sizes which we are likely out-growing and none of us, I don’t think, aspire to any particular, universal, glass slipper. Perhaps though, unlike our physical growth, our spiritual growth is not meant to arrive at a stopping place. I wish there were some notion of a guarantee, however that comfort is some place we could aspire to and move towards and rest in..but as I continue to wrestle with that I am finding it is not a destination we are meant for here. It is cyclical, like nature, our existence, and it moves us (if we get on the ride) towards each next level of being almost intentionally out of whatever comfort zone we previously thought we longed for.
My sister has been in a foreign country for the past 6 months, living without hot water, running water, safe food or general safety. Every morning when I get into my hot shower I am mindful of what she, and millions of other people live without every day. I am mindful also of what they live with…bugs, disease, heat, oppression, and strangely, or not so strangely, joy and compassion and gratitude for next to nothing. While I hate to quote it (and I won’t reveal the source anyway) someone said ‘ruin is the restoration’. I believe that the depth of our capacity to feel peace and comfort is equal to the depth of whatever has or was taken from us, denied us, beaten or stolen out of us. It requires digging and scraping and crawling and sowing and thinking and re-feeling to restore what has been burned away, but it can be found or cultivated or reborn. Birth is an incredibly violent process if you really consider it. So maybe we go through this birth and death and rebirth cycle and maybe some of us simply choose the half life and remain dead-ish, settling for the satisfactory comforts that are so readily available here. (and here I might point to our current cultural obsession with zombies and vampires…the living dead who are voracious with insatiable hungers and tormented eternally).
So what is the sacrifice that holds this promise of unattached fulfillment…the kind of deep peace that nothing or no one can remove because it is of you, in you, surrounding you, grounding you and setting you free all at the same time? Let go of your illusions of control and comfort. Let go of needless worry, which gives you something to do while you contemplate whether or not this thing is real. Let go of all the other feelings and pursuits to make room for the one thing which is all we are we are left with when everything else has been used up and worn away: Love.
5 thoughts on “Love”
Holy cow, CS Lewis said that? How unfortunate, and how incredibly misguided. Just goes to show that anyone can spout crap, even if they ordinarily write throughtfully… also seems to me old Clive has temporarily forgotten why Jesus said, “The prostitutes will go into the kingdom before you!” to those self-proclaimed “holy men”… or that he wasn’t tarring and feathering people, with the exception of religious hypocrites.
I’m really enjoying digging through your archive, it’s a treat of wonderful writing and keen observation and gives me so much to think about.
“I believe that the depth of our capacity to feel peace and comfort is equal to the depth of whatever has or was taken from us, denied us, beaten or stolen out of us.” – totally agree with you. Khalil Gibran had a few pieces where he also basically said that, such as “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?” Your wording explicitly makes the connection to emotional and physical abuse, and I think that’s dead on right.
The phoenix is also a lovely allegory, and the added extra that we saw in HP for example, of Fawkes’ tears being able to heal others. These are wonderful stories and have so many applications in the real world. Einstein was right when he said imagination is actually more important than knowledge…
Hi Sophie, I’ve tried to edit your comment and I’m either not technically savvy enough or comments can’t be edited. If you know any tricks please let me know. Otherwise, it’s no worries. I appreciated your thoughts and perspectives as always. Hope all is well. -e
No idea either! 🙂 Ah well, so a “senior moment” stays on show. Maybe I need glasses. 😉 Not seeing the “no” in CS Lewis’ sentence totally reversed the meaning for me. Oops!
On Flickr we can delete entire comments, but I’ve not used blog software before.
Hope you have a super week!
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Hi Sophie. I hope you had a good week too. Senior moments and all! 😉
Erratum: I somehow read “in danger” rather than “in no danger”, and so would much appreciate if you would delete the first paragraph in my above reply, and this reply. Sorry about that. I thought he was bagging prostitutes there, and he wasn’t…