Long country walks and God go together in my life.
When I arrived here in the tiny town of Kilwinning, one of the first discoveries I made was a slim country lane just a jog from the house. Last Sunday, after a tantrum of a rainstorm had washed the world and Venetia and I had finished our apple crumble for tea, I went for a walk. I had just finished reading Venetia’s newly-written memoirs, of her life as a child in England and the adventure through which God took her to work with the poor in Columbia. Her story, with its faith and vision and grace, kindled an aching in my heart.
I said something a couple of posts back about the fact that I haven’t written much this summer. The reason is that I’ve been unsettled and direly confused of life. Since spring, I’ve been driven by a bitter-tasting angst to figure out where I belong and how to live my ideals. I’ve fretted. And stewed. And schemed. My dreams are so strong; to bring God’s beauty to the world, to write books, to make a ministry home, to study. But I could not figure exactly how to turn those ideals into a plan, and as the days went by, I began to be afraid that I could not.
The problem, which I ceaselessly avoided, was that I could not trust God. I have known many years of loneliness, of work, and of a life that felt often hidden. As I felt God asking me to write, to invest, again, in ministry and people at home, without any clear sense of a future, I balked. I panicked at the thought of the waiting, faithful life. I became frantic to speak instead of listen. I told God just how I would reach my ideals. I told him why I could not stay put, why this time, I just couldn’t wait. I withheld my heart from settling into home, from rhythm, from anything that would bind me. Is it any wonder that my words dried up? What story had I to tell but my own fear?
When this journey to Scotland was handed to me with such grace and generosity by so many people, I was ecstatic, and knew, even in my bluster of soul, how specifically it was a gift from God. But I arrived in this gorgeous land with a heart exhausted, and something about the strange loneliness of traveling alone finally dismantled me. My inner ranting ran dry, and one night in a B&B, I got the full sight of my bone-dry soul. I knew myself forlorn. I felt a fraud. And suddenly, though I could now answer my friend’s question about why I was not writing, I wasn’t sure if I could begin again. Who was I, in my bluster and pride, to think that I could offer hope in my books? My reading of Venetia’s memoirs that Sunday heightened my sense of need, and with it, failure. What did I have to tell beside my struggle and would it, I wondered, ever end?
The air was close and wet as I strode uphill amidst hedgerows and pasture lands that afternoon, but there was a pearly bluster that cooled my face. The vines and thistles and meadow grass were thick and soft, blown by the wind like hair from a child’s face. The beauty of nature came to me like a sign of mercy amidst my gloom. The earth does nothing to earn its loveliness and God alone sustains it. Perhaps, I thought, I am the same. I began to pray.
I prayed aloud, in the soft-breathed, rhythmic way of walking. Guilt suffused me at first, for my mind was dizzied with my need. I told God that I was fed up with myself and decided to thoroughly pray for every thing that distracted me as a way of putting it all to rest and reaching a fix-eyed focus on my Lord. But instead of more guilt at this abandonment to need-prayer, I knew a quickened sense of God’s listening closeness. I pounded out my fear with each step, and felt that the walking and honest, hard words began to weave toward peace. When my words were spent, I found a gate post, scrambled up, and sat by an old stone wall overlooking a field of somnolent cows.
I admitted the fierce, hungry pride, that drives me to strive after dreams that God never gave and feats he never asked and leaves me broken. I held the frail little seed of my humbled, lonely heart up to him and asked him to grow it into the beauty that I could not accomplish for myself. My spirit lightened. I felt a quickening, like a sweet, silvered stream through the dry riverbed of my heart. My brain halted its tilt- a-whirl so that I looked with full presence out of the windows of my eyes. I knew that startled sense of coming awake in soul. And in that instant, I felt God’s voice within me breathing and speaking again.
I want you to come alive to Me again. I want you to live alive as your work in life, thoroughly alive (it isn’t just a nifty name for your blog) to all that I am and the beauty I bring.
My heart leapt up in dawn-like joy. To feel him with me again was life itself. But the words were glory, for even amidst my inner angst I have known, again and again, a conviction of why beauty must be brought to this world. In art, in music, in relationship, in the homes and feasts we offer to the world, beauty speaks and sings and signifies the reality of God. It is the theme, the work I cannot escape. It is what drives this story I have come all the way to Scotland to tell. Yes, my heart sang, I will come alive.
And I will trust. In that moment, I knew that trust was the difference between the heart in me now, in its glimmer of cool calm, and the frenzied, flush-faced one I left behind. To be alive to God is to not only to see his beauty, but trust myself to it, and to God’s power to bring it to pass. To rest, to wait, to “dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” I knew this as I perched on my gatepost, remembering Wendell Berry’s words about assenting to life, yielding to what God gives. I opened my hands to accept a life of waiting at home. I relinquished the crazy, drastic, desperate plans I had made. But the questions remained. What does that mean for every day? And in this waiting, what do I write? Can I tell the story I desire? How do I write at all when my heart is so frail?
I suddenly remembered something from Venetia’s book. In her story, Venetia wrote that, once in a while, God had given her a picture, an image, a story, to be a mental signpost. I thought this a luminous gift. Now, with the timidity of a shy two-year-old, I squinted at heaven and mumbled a request. God, will you give me a picture? An image to help me know what this all means, especially when it comes to my writing?
Instantly, I do mean instantly, a Millais painting came to my thought. It has long enchanted me for its vivid, startling image – that of a blind young girl sitting amidst a glory of a golden field with two rainbows like stairways to heaven behind her. Not a bit of it can she see. But in that painting, a small child sits next to the blind girl, peeking out from under her cloak, neck craned in awe at the glory, telling the blind one of all the beauty. And I knew in that image that my task, as a soul, but particularly as a writer, is to be that child.
Tell the world of the rainbow. My work, my rhythm, my daily set of heart must be that of the child with wide open eyes and a wondering heart. It is a task demanding a hushed, trustful soul, for when I strive and fret, I am blind. I think the fallen world generally is. Sorrow and fear and loneliness make all of us dull to the life of God, and I have often known that darkness. Yet the work God has asked of me is to fret no more and instead, to see. To tell, to speak, to wonder, to watch, with the awe of a little girl. And then to tell the glory I find to those who cannot see for themselves.
To write in such a way does not require strength, success, or even much knowledge. I need not solve my own, or anyone else’s struggle. In fact, to tell the rainbow is also to write the storm amidst which it glows, the black in which the gold burns brightest. It is to tell of the beauty that sustains us in the midst of the rain and draws us beyond it into redemption. All God requires of me is wonder. A heart that is daily alive to the goodness of my God, and a pen full willing to tell of his beauty instead of my own.
If I do nothing else in the next years, if I don’t finish another book, or get a degree, or do a useful thing, if I behold God’s beauty and whisper it, write it, tell it to all I meet, I will count my days well spent. To live alive to the wonder of God and sing it out to the world is the work I accept. And it is why I can write again.
Now, there is so very much to tell.
Someday, I will meet a book or essay deadline with a week to spare. I will be calm, having lost no sleep, and having also kept life at a fairly ordinary rhythm in the meantime. I will also have maintained a normal round of blogging and email answering, thus giving evidence of my continued health and capacity to write to begin with.
That day has not yet come. I tend to meet deadlines in a writing vortex; I eat, breathe, sleep, and think the book to completion and all else falls by the wayside until the moment the thing has to be sent off. But meet my deadlines I do and I submitted the Book Girl manuscript at 3AM last Friday morning, with my husband nearby plying me with water and gummy bears (you’d be surprised at how effective these can be in maintaining mental strength) and all the candles in our little living room lit to keep me awake and inspired. My friends, Book Girl is on her way into the wide world.
And having emerged from the vortex I can greet you here again. As I write from my spot in the Wycliffe Library on this relaxed afternoon, the sun, a blessed sun that feels like a gift in the midst of autumn’s growing grey, flickers over my hands. Leaves shimmer gold in the wind, the air is easy and cool and my mind turns afresh to the grace of this moment, the gift of the ordinary splendor in such wild play out the window of every day. I think I see with even a little more gratitude than I did before because of the books I’ve been reading over the summer of writing, and the way they have shaped my idea of what it means to be a writer, and what I receive every time I read.
One of the books I discovered is Robert MacFarlane’s slim little bound essay The Gifts of Reading. I first read MacFarlane several years ago when I found a copy of his The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. The book was part contemplation, part real-life novel, part history, part literary ramble centred on the his fascination with ‘landscape and the human heart’. In ordering his little essay I discovered his most recent book, a glory of a children’s picture book written to help modern children reengage with the fading language and ever-present mysteries of the natural landscape. And it has won my heart.
The Lost Words is a luminous, lyrical book of illustrations that evoke the movement and essence, the ordinary miracle of things like ‘dandelion’, ‘otter’, ‘bramble’, and ‘acorn’. I’ve seen snippets of it online and perused it at the bookstore (it’s on my ‘please-someone-get-me-this-for-Christmas-list) and what I find in its pages is the sense of something created as a gift. It reminds me of the Millais painting of a blind girl sitting under a rainbow and the girl beside her describing it (an image that was deeply meaningful to me). This is, in a way, MacFarlane’s and his illustrator Jackie Morris’ way of ‘writing the rainbow’ for the children who can’t see it and in that description, beginning to heal the blindness.
Books like that are acts of generosity. Many books, I believe, are. After a summer spent revisiting old classics, exploring new beloveds, crafting lists of the books that formed the way I see the world, I’ve realized that often the books I love the most are an offering rooted in an author’s sense of responsibility and thanks for some goodness or truth deeply perceived. It may be grace glimpsed in sorrow. Acceptance sprouting up in disaster. But there is a rich sense of Denise Levertov’s affirmation that: I believe poets are . . . makers, craftsmen: it is given to the seer to see, but it is then his responsibility to communicate what he sees, that they who cannot see may see, since we are ‘members one of another.’
In writing Book Girl I have become deeply aware of the fact that as a writer, I speak from what I have been generously given. I am a lover of books, a student of theology, one who can wonder at the world because so many people before me – my parents, my favorite writers, the friends who pressed good books into my hands, the tutors here at Oxford who were faithful to communicate what they had discovered – were generous with their words. They spoke me into wonder. They startled me awake. They took me by the hand of mind and soul and pointed at the rainbow.
My great hope for Book Girl is that it will be the same. A giving of thanks that begins the vision for another reader. If that could be the case, I think the vortex would be worth it.
To be a “fresher” in Oxford means a free pass into the mazed mysteries of the “fresher’s fair.” When I first heard this term and found a purple paper bracelet in my pigeon hole offering me admission to this gala event, I had no idea what I was in for. A few booths in an echoing university hall? Free candy? A dozen or so student societies vying for my signature on their mailing list?
Dutifully, I followed the directions one autumn afternoon down the windy, leaf-strewn Parks road with the sun winking through the copper leaves. I passed the Radcliffe Camera, regal and golden under the sapphire of an autumn sky, and turned down the cobbles of High Street. I marched to the entrance of the famous Examination Rooms, home of the Fresher’s Fair, and joined what I suddenly realized was a rather massive group of students, all surging toward a back entrance, shepherded by security guards and staff through two widely opened doors. I suddenly couldn’t hear myself think. Sucked into the mass, I was pushed by crowds behind, drawn by crowds in front, and found myself through the doors and up a flight of stairs before I knew what had happened. With a last shove, I had arrived.
I found myself in a wide, bright room so crammed with people I could barely step sideways. A thousand voices rattled in my ears. The air thrummed with sound, thickened with noise so that I felt that I pressed against it as I walked. Countless booths lined the walls and marched at angles down the center of the room, decked out in various enticing signs, manned by persuasive, smiling people who reached toward us, pressing papers, food, pencils, packets into our hands. The whole of it felt like a jungle path down which we freshers began to run. Yes, run; the hurry of it was like a hand shoved hard against my shoulders. I passed from booth to booth and face to face in bewildering speed. Philosopher’s cocked studious eyebrows at me and shoved their mailing list in my hands. The Green party smiled amidst a rainbow array of pumpkins and sunflowers. The dance society twirled amidst their music and handed me a card for free lessons. The bearded Communist representative solemnly handed me a manifesto of some sort with dates for upcoming events. The Oxford Students for Life (check them out, they’re grand!) handed out packets of seeds, and the local Domino’s Pizza exchanged free slices for email addresses.
And that’s only a tiny sample of the first room. What we found as we stumbled along, friends trying to keep each other in sight, was that eight, nine, ten more rooms awaited. Door after door, hall after hall, booth after booth, all vying for our interest, grabbing at our hands and attention, smiling, calling, yelling, cajoling. After half an hour, my ears ringing, my hands overburdened, I began to panic. Our Bodleian Library induction was minutes away, and none of us could find the exit. Breathless, we pushed through two more rooms and found a stairway out. When I emerged into the cold air of the High Street, the wind tingling with a sudden rain, I took breath, and felt that I hadn’t really breathed in an hour. My heart raced as I ran to make it to our appointment in time but I felt strangely relieved to be free, as if I’d survived some strange ordeal.
Rarely in my whole life has an experience so overwhelmed me. Or marked my heart in so deep a way. But it took me a few days to discover exactly what epiphany had begun in me during that bewildering hour.
Meanwhile, orientation week took place. First, I fell in love with Oxford all over again. The throb and ache of this city with its countless hungering people, its ancient beauty, its rainy, leaf-starred streets is a beloved presence. I made myself at home in my little room, culling pictures and random crockery from the great little “charity shops” round every corner. I live in a rambling old hall with a chapel all dappled and quiet at its heart and classrooms up one set of stairs and a library down the other. The first week, known here as 0 Week, or “Nought Week,” was a round of orientation talks explaining just exactly what I’d gotten myself into. I discovered more libraries, and was inducted into the mysteries of more library systems than I probably can use for the rest of my life. I heard talks on mission, apologetics, communal living, time management, and Oxford expectations. (One of the talks, I’ll share here with you soon.) I signed up for classes, gaped at the reading lists, and bought my sub fusc (look it up). I registered for Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, Doctrine, Spirituality, and Christianity and Science (taught by the inimitable Alister McGrath). Oh, and I arranged a side tutorial in C.S. Lewis. You can be jealous now.
But the golden core of it was my daily immersion in new community. Life sparkled and throbbed around me in a house full of people who made their way from countless corners of the earth to study Christ, to learn Scripture, to think deeply, to write with excellence, to question with keen intent. My favorite part of the first few days was the stories. What course have you started? Where are you from? How in the world did you end up here? And why? Each meal was a round of queries, all of us crammed next to each other on narrow dining hall benches, or gathered in the noise of old pubs, or walking to some new orientation event. And the answers came as varied as gems in a king’s wild treasure. From missions, from academic glories, from jobs in London, or backgrounds in finance, or years in medicine or the military. From Russia, South Africa, Australia, Sweden, or the good old U.S. To be a priest, to start a mission, to learn to defend my faith, to start a theological degree, to learn how to teach Scripture, because I just want to learn about God. Each answer the first chapter of a story it will take the rest of the year to read.
And each a story whose core is the central story of Christ: the Gospel.
You know, somewhere in the last few weary years, I think the word “gospel” lost some of its meaning for me. Sometimes, when you have grown up in ministry, known Christians all your life, struggled with doctrine rather than salvation, the earth shattering fact of the gospel can get a bit dimmed by the words that surge around it. I didn’t realize that grace had ceased to strike me dumb until I sat, on one of the first mornings, on a couch in the common room and heard the testimony of several students. To them, for them, the Gospel was a living power of love that put its gentle, inexorable fingers on their heart and called them into lives they couldn’t have imagined before. For them, the Gospel is something that changed everything; family, life, vocation, identity. And in their awe, I began to regain my own, to be aware of Christ, his kingdom, his daily grace, as a love demanding far more of me than I have lately given, offering far more than I have lately asked. Unexpectedly, I found that orientation here was as much a matter of soul as mind. I’m ready to study… and worship.
Joy with my lovely new friend.
But several nights ago, with the verve and forward motion of classes still hovering on the horizon, I had a few hours of fear. I’d spent my weekend getting last details in place, finding books, ordering my room. And at times, it must be admitted, sitting in the quiet of a new place in which all the connections and friendships had begun… but weren’t yet fully grown. It’s easy to be anonymous in Oxford, to wander alone. It’s easy to feel, and be, unknown. And jetlag is a creeping foe, one that slowly weakens your every defense against weariness, fear, or pain. In the darkening afternoon, I knew a few hours in which the hurry and fun of the past week faded into an awful, murky quiet. A hush in which the old fears of loneliness or incompetence drifted into my mind with their gaunt haunted faces, the specters always attending any new adventure. I turned from them, a little panicked, and stumbled outdoors. I strode down the blustery St. Giles street, past the Bird & Baby pub, to an evening service at a church near the heart of town.
The hubbub of the gathered faithful in the nave was a beehive roar in my ears when I entered. I nodded shyly to greeters and made my way through crowds of strangers to find a seat. I’m sometimes tempted to think that I’ve outgrown my shyness, but moments alone in a roomful of strangers always prove me wrong. I felt my heart rate upping. I felt my soul snatching toward calm, unable to catch it. I felt all the fear of being alone far from home, a fear that for once, had stayed strangely at bay since my arrival. No more; it knocked hard on my heart. The noise around me felt almost unbearable, so many voices, too many strange faces. I considered bolting. Better a stiff slap of cold air in the face than trying to bite back tears.
But the music began. And the crowd around me began to hush. I was aware of the quieting almost like breath given fresh to my body. I eased. I knew the song and I let my tongue slip into the sweet old words of a hymn. Jesus. The name of Christ was often on our lips in that opening music. The noise of that big room and its many people gathered itself together into an uplifted harmony. I marveled at the way that a cacophony of disparate voices could merge, united inthe joined affirmation of worship.
And then… hush. All at once. As the leader spoke the opening prayer, the music ceased, and in that grand old hall with its echoing corners, not a voice disturbed the silence that followed his invocation. “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The words wove a fierce presence about us. I thought of the Gospel, a fresh, and living word in my heart. I savored the name of this God made flesh, renewing all things, and I listened as that name above all names drew our many voices into one concentrated instant of stillness.
And then I thought of the fresher’s fair.
I thought of the thousand competing voices screaming for the attention of every student that entered that hall. I thought of the noise. The way that, instead of uniting and hushing the heart, the thousand voices shattered it. I thought of the unceasing bewilderment. The way that an untethered heart could be buffeted from booth to booth, and with it, faith to faith. For that fair wasn’t merely a gathering of casual clubs, it was a marketplace for ideas. The fresher’s fair imaged Oxford itself, a place of privileged gathering for students from around the world, a city in which the competing philosophies of the whole world are on offer. This is the place where the next leaders of world culture come to form the answers to their fundamental questions, choose the philosophies they will use to craft governments, economies, art, novels, and discovery. But the whole world vies for their hearts, the rulers of the age and ideas of the moment contend in a wild frenzy for the souls of these young, hungry students. And in that wild milieu, the voice of Christ still calls, calls, calls, ready to answer every question they bear. But in the cacophony, will they hear it? Who will help them listen for that still, small voice?
In the silence of the church, I knew the whisper of Love in my own heart. Tell them. I thought of all my new friends, the ones whose stories had so quickened my weary faith. I thought of the thousands of students walking round Oxford, bearing a far worse loneliness or isolation than I could ever know, and I thought of the love that might shine in their darkness, the words of life that could tell them into, not just a philosophy, but a story. But more; the whisper was strong in my waiting mind. Love them. For love is the stillness that enters a life with a calm beyond the reach of fear or guilt or worry. The love of God is the great answer to the myriad hungers that jostle in our hearts from birth. Love is the word that names us and calls us home.
“Only the loved can love. Only the found can find.” I heard a speaker make that statement years ago (so long ago, I can’t remember his name), but it came to me as I stood in that quiet wrought by love. For I understood, in a way I rarely have before, the gift that my faith actually is. In a life like mine, with a long history of loving God and the many attending days of profound loneliness, of doubt, of new living situations faced, and abiding uncertainty, it’s easy to dwell upon all that I lack. To feel that I have more questions for God than answers, that I am adrift, unanswered, forgotten. But with the fresher’s fair vivid in my mind, with the restless, desiring energy of Oxford present in every pulse of thought, I understood that in knowing Christ, my essential questions have been answered. I have been loved. And found by a grace that forms and frees me. And my questions, the ones about identity and destiny and the hope of happy endings, have been profoundly, unequivocally answered.
And I must live from those answers. I must embody and sing them. I must, in my own life, and in the life of the Christ who illumines me, be an answer to those thousand questioning hearts at the fresher’s fair. The stakes here are higher than I have known them before. In a secular atmosphere, in a learned city in which faith is just one option, the imperative rests with those who embrace it to speak out the answers they have found. In the silence of the church, I was keenly aware of the rustle of the streets, the bustle of the questing world beyond. A river flood of questing, driven minds passed the windows even as I prayed. And I knew that the work of my life, whatever else I do, must be to let the love of God so richly dwell in me that I become a refuge where the hungry come to rest. Where the questing discover their answer. And if that is the only truth I learn at Oxford, it will be enough.
Sirens wailed out the window. Raucous laughter split the air. A chorus of friendly song rattled round the doors. A year of learning brooded on the brink of the morrow. And I knew that the story was just beginning…
I’m on an epic road trip with my precious sis this week. No time to write. Plenty of time to look. From our adventuring, a few glimpses:
It was her birthday! Had to start with that. I always wanted a sister. And I got the best one in the whole, wide world. We celebrated her grand day at the house of one of her college friends, with a feast of a breakfast and a rather unforgettable hat.
Mountains, Gandalf, mountains! The farther north we drive, the more startling the landscape becomes. We are in my version of fairy land – distant white peaks, lolling green valleys, impossibly tall lords of trees, and rivers threaded through darkling banks.
- My favorite of the sister’s adventure pics so far. Life sure is grand with that girl.
Ah, my soul. There is no speech nor are there words. I know that was written about the heavens, but surely it can apply to rivers as well.
Before we left LA, Joy and I took at tour of Disneyland at the generous offer of one of her friends and we saw the most spectacular, truly beautiful display of music and lights and water. But I was distracted the whole time by this curly-headed little boy who raised his hands in glee at every swell of the symphony. Such unfettered joy!
- Golden hills, azure sky, snowy clouds, and these gem-like bursts of rose and red and softest pink. The landscape was like driving through a rainbow in northern California.
- The sunset that began our first day of adventuring, and a long night of misadventuring. We started up the 101 late in the day, expecting to find a hotel a couple hours in. There was, however a festival which meant that every hotel within a hundred miles was full. As in, we called dozens and begged to placed on waiting lists and were denied. So we pressed on. My mom told us that a contact on FB had offered us a place to crash three hours ahead in Monterey. On we pressed. We arrived at almost 1am and emerged from the car to find… one of my dear childhood friends waiting to greet us! Such a surprise. Such a gift.
And because this poem has been running through my head the whole glorious journey:
BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY
O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
“Come, let us worship God, wonderful in his saints!”
So ended Michael Ward’s introduction in our program today for the C.S. Lewis memorial service. And that is exactly what we did. I read those words as I sat in my straight wooden chair beneath the rainbow filtered light of the soaring stained glass windows in Westminster Abbey. The organ hummed the opening music amidst the swish and whisper of the gathering congregation. I watched almost a thousand people filter in to celebrate the life of C.S. Lewis. Wielder of words, weaver of stories, and humble-hearted friend, Lewis wrote and spoke from the Love that was the light by which he saw the world. In honoring his life today, we blessed the beautiful God who was the heart and Joy of it all.
Come, Holy Spirit, and send the heavenly radiance of your light. Come, Father of the poor; come giver of gifts; come, light of all hearts. Amen. This was the opening prayer. I have a thousand things I want to write later on. I thought hard about reason and imagination once more as I listened to Alistair McGrath and Malcolm Guite speak on Lewis’ ideas on those topics yesterday. But tonight, as I write this short post, I’m basking in the way that the life of Lewis, an author I love, one of the first people I hope to meet in heaven, showed us the life of God. There was such joy in the air today, such a taste of the life that will someday come.
The Dean’s prayer: Almighty God, Father of lights and author of all goodness: we give thee humble praise for the life and work of thy servant C.S. Lewis, and beseech thee that, as he has helped us to look to a world beyond this world and to hopes better than our own, we may come with him to the fulness of everlasting joy which thou has prepared for them that truly love thee, in the heavenly courts of they Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Further up and further in!” roared the Unicorn, and no one held back… And soon they found themselves all walking together – and a great, bright procession it was – up towards the mountains higher than you could see in this world even if they were there to be seen. But there was no snow on those mountains: there were forests and green slopes and sweet orchards and flashing waterfalls, one above the other, going up for ever… The light ahead was growing stronger. Lucy saw that a great series of many-coloured cliffs led up in front of them like a giant’s staircase. And then she forgot everything else, because Aslan himself was coming, leaping down from cliff to cliff like a living cataract of power and beauty…” -part of the excerpt from The Last Battle, read aloud by Douglas Gresham.
I felt I got a little “further up and further in” today. Lewis is the one who calls us that way, and I think “roar” would be a good way to describe it, as he does the voice of the unicorn, Jewel. Every aspect of his life was a shout and a song calling us further into the great Reality he apprehended in imagination and described with his powerful reason. God bless C.S. Lewis. I remember him with thanks today. And I’m ready to follow him deep into the mountains and life of God.