"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."


~C.S. Lewis




Friday, August 26, 2011

Moving among the worlds



To return this night to my small corner of the teeming anthill, my cliff-dwelling cave, I would turn right. Logic extends her hand and asks me to follow her there; she seeks to show me the people and the buildings, the manicured paths and the sculptured fountain. The doors watch me with their deep, mahogany eyes, beckoning.

To the right lies reality. But to the left lies home.

Leftward, onward, quiet grace of columns sweep heavenward while deep tapestry rugs keep my feet; I feel them through soft leather-thin shoes—a sister’s gift. They take me softly across the floor, for in dancer’s lightness I wish to be neither seen nor heard. Let no one find me, let this place be at peace. I give a returning grace to the greeting of the prayer chapel, decades my senior, watching me with age-old eyes. Lost in a world where what is real is bent and what I know may change, I turn a corner, floating in medieval Italy, entranced in a story of love and of pain, whispering the words of star-crossed lovers. I myself seek to move across the stars.

I start; before me lies someone not in my world, or, perhaps, I am no longer in hers. She sits—I stand—two worlds. The Bard’s words die in my throat like the lovers about whom they speak. I smile, I nod, greetings exchanged, eyes soften; she returns to her land and I slip pass, eager to return to mine.

Almost home—almost free—I lean my weight into the towering deep wood doors, both small hands pressing against huge wood-carvings a thousand more have touched. I look up and up to the ceiling high ahead, hearing the creak-wood groan under my grasp and wonder—is this is how Aragorn felt when he threw open the doors and announced the coming of war?

But I am not going to war, not now, not yet, at least. Someday. Perhaps, in this place of age and beauty, of weddings and poems, of prayers and peace, this will contain enough magic to bring me through. The kindly door, deep dark with calm, lets me through, and I step outside into the fresh air. Will this be the time I step through the wardrobe? I hear the beckoning horn.

Outside.

Not Narnia, not now, but yet still Aslan’s world. I smile, step out, skirt swinging, eyes dancing. This is a night from heaven.

The flowers are blooming—daylilies, daffodils, yellow, pink, red, so many I do not know the names of. I should ask my grandmother. Their petals cascade over one another, each vying for the chance to give beauty. I wish to be such as they.

The descending stairs of stone lift me up with quiet hands, accompanying my journey down to the crystal lake turned red by the dying fire-sun. I step down them, faster and faster, steps cascading onto each other, and I will myself to be free and fly. I am drawn by this blood-red water—life blood—water of life. The shoes—off. The bag—dropped to the ground. Close now to the water, the breeze shyly says hello and my wind-blown curls return the greeting. Hello. I’m glad you’re here, too.

I sink down into the grass and close my eyes, and the glory of this evening lets me be nothing but be filled with shalom of the kingdom. It is bittersweet; I long to share it with someone who could understand and who could see and who could know my soul’s perfect bliss-glory in this moment without my having to breathe a word. There is one. But she is in her own home of windswept waters and bright-beauty flowers, in a land across the sea.

And I am alone.

I move among my worlds. Now in ancient Italy on a balcony—now here in America by a lake—now there in Narnia before a throne. Now speaking verse, the song-speech—now praying to my Savior, my Prince-Love—now staying quiet, willing time to slow.

But it doesn’t. For every minute that passes, a golden leaf drifts to the ground, decorating the outdoor carpet with autumn tinsel. I must go back. My time here has ended. I pick up my shoes and move through the grass, yet an unashamed rebellion rises in my veins: I will not walk on the black-souled concrete, I will not step into the city’s land. Instead, I skirt the curb and walk barefoot among the wildflowers, feet wet with evening’s dewy kiss, skirt blowing softly in its own dance.

I pass a friend. “You look beautiful,” she says.

I hope so.

Moving forward, passing on, seeing people, coming back as in time-travel to the land I left minutes and decades ago. I come to the edge of the grassy road and look back at the crystal sea. I will go back, I know I will, for that is home. I will go back when I am called, just as I was this evening.

For if I listen closely, quietly, I hear the horn’s quiet summons fading into the approaching night.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

"She Walks in Beauty"

I heard about this poem only just this evening, when my friend mentioned it by name. With a name like that, I thought, it simply had to be wonderful.

And I was right.

"She Walks in Beauty"
By Lord Byron


She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Light of Men: Desperately reclaiming a desire for the Bible

As my last post said, I have been challenged by prayer. But there has been another area I have been talking to the Lord about: reading the Scriptures.

I wanted to love the Bible. I really did. When I was asked what my favorite book was, I wanted to answer, “the Bible.” But, if I were truly honest, I couldn’t. I wasn’t fascinated by it; I didn’t read it for hours; and to be perfectly honest, it really didn’t change my life all that much. What was wrong with me? What kind of hypocritical Christian was I?

There were many reasons for my deadness regarding Scripture, and I am not proud of them, not proud at all. I had a difficult translation of the Bible that made me feel like I wasn’t even reading English. I would have set amounts of time I would “have” to read in order to feel “spiritual,” and I would constantly check the clock to see if I was “done.” I even went as far as, in my quest to “get something out of it,” making sure I wrote notes and marking the text on every single page; I forced myself to have a note per page, or I wouldn’t move on, with my goal to have writing on every page of my Bible. It was that depressing goal, and not any true, soul-deep desire for the face of Jesus that kept me slogging through the mire of the text. But most of all—I had no reason to read it. What was I doing? What was I learning? Nothing but words on a page.

Maybe I shouldn’t be speaking all this in past tense, for it is something I am just delving into, but it’s changing. The more I learn of beauty and maia and glory, the more I change. For those things—being in the presence of God, loving Jesus as a Prince and not just a King, maia, Seeing myself and Seeing others, the gospel of the holistic kingdom and not of anything else—so many things I have not even begun to explain here—they are opening my eyes to a world and life so glorious that I cannot but fall on my knees and worship my King.

But, then, I would ask—why do I not see all these things in the Bible? It seems that I experience them first personally, experientially, independent of learning them in the Bible beforehand. But, perhaps I do see them in Scripture. Maybe—maybe—the Bible is meant to be what teaches, clarifies, and explains what we experience here on earth, in a cyclical cycle. First, apart from Christ, we feel drawn to something more, at which point the Bible shows us how to enter Jesus’ kingdom as royalty, and then perhaps as we begin opening to that and experiencing it in maia and glory and Seeing here in perfect impacting experience instead of just words on a page, and after that—or simultaneously—we reach back to the Bible and are taught, clarified, corrected, and expanded regarding the glory we felt in real, experiential life, and it goes around and around, deeper and deeper, spiral after spiral, further up and further in.

When I read my Bible in the morning, then, I am reading to understand the world around me, what I feel, my life, maia, Seeing—I am reading to be told how to understand and further such desperate glory and beauty in this life and in this kingdom and in my soul. It is like uncovering jewels; you know every verse is holding jewels that would change you and change the world, but you do not always recognize them. Every chapter and verse will not transform you every day, because you don’t see the same every day; you don’t always see the jewel glittering in the sand. But, someday, you will. And something, today, will speak to you. So keep searching. Keep reading. It is there, and the Lord will show you.

Then, instead of an academic exercise, or something to check off the list, searching the Scriptures becomes the most eye-opening adventure in being transformed to something far greater than you ever knew possible. It is where you hunger after each word to tell you more about the glory God is showing you, and where you fill your readings with prayer and dialogue with the Writer, in anticipation of what perfect majesty He wants to show you today.

You feel truly alive. You feel like light is breaking through. For in the Word is life, and that life is the light of men.