Friday, January 29, 2010

The Great Divorce

Currently our small group is reading C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. An allegorical tale of a man who dies and gets on a bus to a large grassy plain. He meets various characters along the way, many of whom get met by emissaries who are sent to help lead these ghosts across the plain, up to the mountains and into perfect love and joy, if only they'll give up the chains that bind them to hell.

It's been a year or so since I've read any Lewis - and I'd forgotten how much I end up wincing as I recognize myself. I have a friend who says that if you read Scripture correctly, it should pinch you. Clive Staples is like that for me; I'm only a little ways into it and am already bruised.

I am listening to the book on CD in the car and am meeting the parade of characters, many of whom I resemble on some level: whining, pride, grudging duty, not accepting help, looking for how I was wronged or what I'm owed. It's terribly annoying and terribly necessary. I have to determinedly resist the temptation to listen and identify these traits in other people I know, rather than seeking to root out my own sin.

Throughout this uncomfortable exercise, however, I get glimpses of the picture, painted so deftly by Lewis, of heaven. One of selfless joy, of complete love and of a far better life. And so I keep listening because, when all is said and done, the chains of sin are really heavy and I don't want to carry them around. I do want to experience, on a more consistent basis, the sheer relief of letting go and letting God.

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