The Dancing Puritan

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Room With A View

Windows from the Study of C.S. Lewis.  Photo Credit

How many people grab, go, collect, and are busy all of their lives and never see the vanity of it all?  Or if they see the vanity they either deny or acknowledge it and mindlessly continue on--seeing no greater meaning to it all.

Are not all of us tempted in that direction? Do we imagine that all of the "good things of life" will bring us some sense of significance if we could just grasp them? And yet we can never quite catch them, can we? And the good things that we obtain leave us longing for something more.

We treat good things in a bad way when we imagine that vacations, comedy, drink, fun, possessions, money, music and beautiful people will give us the significance (joy) that we long for. When they fall short of our expectations then we curse them and fall into despair.

But is there a way to treat good things in a good way?

Alister McGrath writes of C.S. Lewis and Narnia:

...In The Last Battle...Lewis here invites us to imagine a room with a window that looks out onto a beautiful valley or a vast seascape.  On a wall opposite this window is a mirror.  Imagine looking out of the window, and then turning and seeing the same thing reflected in the mirror. What, Lewis asks, is the relationship between these two different ways of seeing things?

Lewis:

The sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different--deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.

McGrath:

We live in the shadowlands, in which we hear echoes of the music of heaven, catch sight of its bright colours, and discern its soft fragrance in the air we breathe. But it is not the real thing; it is a signpost, too easily mistaken for the real thing.

The way that we treat good things in a good way is to recognize that our good gifts of food, drink, marriage and friendships are gifts from God. They have been given for our enjoyment. If we please God (the only way to do so is by faith) then we have the capacity to receive wisdom, knowledge and joy. Those who do not please God (the wicked) lose everything (see Ecclesiastes 2). To treat good things in a good way we must receive the good things by faith and enjoy them to the utmost as pointers to the new Narnia.

Someone once said, Live for this life and you will lose both this life and the next. Live for the next life and you will get this life thrown in (paraphrase from memory).

I would add that when we live for the one above the sun then we get to enjoy life beneath the sun.