A Short Walk To The End Of The World

The End Of The World

The End Of The World

I don’t have anything to write so I’m just rambling on here. First of all it’s a dull winter’s night and on nights like this you could go for a walk along the Old Man Saltbush avenue towards the river—no snakes at this time of year, unless of course they’ve been dragged out of a hole by a dog, in which case they would be dead anyway. But it could be worth it because that river is the one the horse walked across, got lost and then came back two years later. Almost immediatley we traded that horse for a dog and then a few days later the horse was bitten by a snake and died. So yes, it’s the river that turned our horse into a dog: sort of.

Anyway, when you walk down that way at night you get to thinking—and praying of course—about all the friends you’ve made, especially the dead ones. Like George for example, who used to say, ‘Courage! God mends all.’ And then there’s Fyodor the magician of making novels out of dialogue who’s characters say things like, ‘Why, the whole world of knowledge isn’t worth that child’s tears to her.’ And of course there’s always old Spenser not too far away—perhaps lingering near that end of the Milky Way—whose gentle knight says to his sad-faced Faerie Queene, ‘Found never help who never would his hurts impart.’ To which his lady says, ‘O but, great grief will not be told. And can more easily be thought than said.’

Then, in an absurd moment of temptation, a mysterious and powerful Lord appears and says to the knight, ‘Behold, thou faerie’s son, with mortal eye, that which living eye never before did see. The thing you crave so earnestly: to know where all the riches shown by me, did come from. Now! Is revealed to you. Here is the fountain of the world’s good … To which the knight replies, ‘Suffice it then thou Money God, that all thine idle offers I refuse. All that I need I have. What needeth me to covet more than I have cause to use?’

Rambling out at night along a saltbush trail takes you to the end of the world in such a short time. Looks like I have an appointment there tonight. Good night! And may you have amazing dreams.

 

‘Sex is serious … unserious … like a party hat … like a crown of thorns.’

 

 

‘Sex is serious in many ways, but in other ways it is very unserious. It reminds us of our middle state, not exactly angels but not just animals either. The act of love is a “Pagan sacrament”, as Sky-Father and Earth-Mother. One aspect of marriage that needs stressing today is the man’s responsibility in it. In neither the “Pagan sacrament” of sex nor the Christian fulfillment in marriage is the crown the man wears capable of being lorded over the woman: in the pagan sacrament it is as a crown of paper, like a party hat. In the Christian institution of marriage it is more like a crown of thorns.’*

 

* Lewis C. S. Four Loves (chapter on Eros)

quoted at, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~lahtid/literature/contempeng/cslewis/fourloves.htm

Enabling Treasure Hunters

Hidden Treasure

 

I was having a coffee with one of our Cornerstone mafia the other day and as we talked I was enjoying the fact that they had been on a long journey through their own forest: for years. But they had not given up. And in there they had met some serious dragons (potentially soul destroying), made some serious mistakes that met with much pain, which seem best described as fires: the loving fires of grace. And they had also become aware of various sins and wounds they needed to deal with and to find healing for.

And that was only the beginning—’only’ seems such an inadequate word here. But having come this far they now appeared to be enjoying the forgotten gold of their own inner resources, talents, skills and experiences, thanks to an awakening of the joy of learning and a discovering of how powerful they really were. Yes,they know that this is a partnership with the One they worship. But it’s been fascinating reflecting on what might have happened if, having found grace, they had followed the religious script and resigned themselves to a treadmill of church, bible study and prayer (whilst waiting to die) and never discovered that joy of learning and the fact of their own inner creative power.

Fortunately they had been asked some well-formed questions by their various tutors; carefully listened to, and been patiently, lovingly and un-lovingly prodded by various scathing university lecturers, numbers of brothers and sisters in the Kingdom family and had (thanks to their adventurous spirit) experienced some major disasters, which, looking back on, seemed almost necessary in order for the ‘slaying’ of some of those dragons to take place.

All of this could have been lost on them if they had not been allowed to experience ownership of their journey and had instead been coddled and over-nurtured by excessively compassionate teachers. Yes there were times when that is exactly what happened and (from what I could see) nearly ruined them. Eventually, thanks to extended times of absence of helpers and supporters and to the deliberate restraint of friends, their expedition into another night-time exploration of the jungle of their soul took them to a place of deep curiosity and reflection. As a result, some kind of deep contentment—which can only be described as a beautiful mystery—has come over them.

PS: It was appropriate for them to draw strength from others. And it was great that there were friends who were eager to hear and to reassure them that the gold was there somewhere in their own forest. And they needed to remember to ‘fear the Lord’; that ‘apart from the Vine the branch can do nothing’; and the fact of their own shadow self: ‘the heart deceitful above all things’.

But these heavy and frequently over-laboured and even paralysing truths in Christendom should never be allowed to kill your sense of anticipation and your confidence in this amazing creature, which we call our ‘fellow human being’. They desperately need to know that you believe that the gold is there in their own forest and that it’s just a matter of finding it and that you are ready to help them: not by telling them so much as by being a catalyst enabling them to keep searching and searching in that intelligent and creative way, which assumes that ‘fortune favours the bold’ and that there’s a Paraclete out there somewhere who will assist them.

For, with time and prayer and listening and meeting all the various ‘people and tragedies to meet’ on this quest, their hunches and beliefs will begin to solidify into a conviction that lives in their heart and soul. And that is when it’s no longer just you who thinks the gold is there, you both know it’s there and you can celebrate their finding of the gold—as long as you remember that this is not your forest, it is theirs and they are the only one who can actually find the treasure, the moment you try to do that it begins to melt away.

As the scripture says, ‘Let each take care how he builds. There can be no other foundation beyond that which is already laid; I mean Jesus Christ himself. If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, and fine stone, or with wood, hay, and straw, the work that each man does will at last be brought to light: the day of judgement will expose it. For that day dawns in fire and the fire will test the worth of each man’s work. If a man’s building stands, he will be rewarded; if it burns he will have to bear the loss; and yet he will escape with his life as one might from a fire.’*
* 1 Corinthians 3:11-16

 

 

A Mystery To Be Lived

‘This story is much greater than we know and to despair (even if it is romanticised and made pretty with clever words) is to sulk, to sit on the fence, and to refuse the obvious: that life is “a mystery to be lived rather than a problem to be solved.”7 So we choose to “bet our lives upon one side in life’s great war“6 and to join with You in the sweet and patient work of grace like the priest who—faced with the overwhelming burden of the world’s suffering—refused to be intimidated by those who demanded that he first satisfy their criticisms of their own conveniently narrow understanding of God: a straw god in fact. Instead, like Christ, he chose to turn his back on their contempt and to “mine compassion”1a out of the pit of the world’s woes. Amen.’*

7Deborah Smith Douglas

6 Studdert Kennedy’s poem ‘Faith’

1aLes Miserable

*The Explorer’s Prayer: Part II