I'm just tucked away in my Aunt and Uncle's living room reading and soaking in the Lord's unbelievable Love and Favor. This is the retreat I needed! I don't think I even knew how much I needed this until my soul found this wide open space. Just the car ride down was ministering and my reading this afternoon has renewed me in many ways.
I wanted to share a fairly long passage from the book I'm currently enjoying: A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken, an Oxford scholar and the close friend of C. S. Lewis. Long (in age of tweets and texts), but rewarding, this bit reminded me of a choice I have often made and encouraged me to continue making that choice:
[Here Vanauken is describing himself in the third person, referencing an experience from youth] ...There he had sat, leaning against the bark, with Polly [his trusty dog] lying daintily at his side. He must have been, he supposed about fifteen. He couldn't recall what it was in his reading that had begun the train of thought - yes, he could; it had been the great brains in their towers in Stapledon's splendid Last and First Men. He had been wont to despise emotions: girls were emotional, girls were weak, emotions - tears - were weakness. But this morning, he was thinking that being a great brain in a tower, nothing but a brain, wouldn't be much fun. No excitement, no dog to love, no joy in the blue sky - no feelings at all. But feelings - feelings are emotions! He was suddenly overwhelmed by the revelation that what makes life worth living is, precisely, the emotions. But, then - this was awful! - maybe girls with their tears and laughter were getting more out of life. Shattering! [HAHAHA]
He checked himself: showing one's emotions wasn't the thing: having them was. Still he was dizzy with the revelation. What is beauty but something that is responded to with emotion? Courage, at least partly, is emotional. All the splendour of life. But if the best of life is, in fact, emotional, then one wanted the highest, purest emotions: and that meant joy. Joy was the highest. How did one find joy? In books it seemed to be found in love - a great love... So if he wanted the heights of joy, he must have, if he could find it, a great love. But in the books again, great joy through love seemed always to go hand in hand with frightful pain. Still, he thought, looking out across the meadow, still, the joy would be worth the pain - if, indeed they went together. If there were a choice - and he suspected there was - a choice between, on the one hand, the heights and the depths and, on the other hand, some sort of safe, cautious middle way, he, for one, here and now, chose the heights and the depths.Wow. I feel undone.