It is week 4 for the Book Discussion group over at Michele Morin’s site, Living Our Days, where Michele is leading a wonderful study on C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces. I have so enjoyed the great questions that she poses for us to consider, and all of the incredible responses offered by those who are joining in the study. It is serving to stir my heart to new depths of searching into the ways that God writes His Story into our lives.
This week, Orual has faced an awful, bottomless pit of despair, and has begun the process of living again. Her way of coping, however, was to harden her heart in order to numb the pain and confusion at life that could not be answered by anyone near to her.
Don’t we all choose that numbing at some point in our lives?
When she is offered to be taught a new, deeply physical skill, her response shows the level of coping that she had chosen when she tells us,
“He kept me at it for a full half-hour. It was the hardest work I’d ever done, and, while it lasted, one could think of nothing else. I said not long before that that work and weakness (or sleep) are comforters. But sweat is the kindest creature of the three–far better than philosophy, as a cure for ill thoughts.”
And I pitied her, but nodded my head in agreement, as I recognized my own self in her statements. Working up a sweat out in the garden, or a long arduous hike, were the best ways of coping that I chose for many long years when the events of my days were more than I could bear.
But what happens, when all of your own coping methods
are stripped away?
Is there a way to find true comfort?
Or will the heart become harder still
and find new ways to push
through the pain?
Orual eventually finds herself on a journey to recover at least a small portion of her own and her family’s honor. She and the Chief Guard for the King’s Army, Bardia, set off to climb the Grey Mountain, and reclaim her sister Psyche’s bones for burial, and thus to bring a closure to her broken heart.
But on the journey, she and Bardia cross beyond any previously known exploration of the mountain, and enter a scene of indescribable beauty. C.S. Lewis shines at his description of nature for us. And almost, Orual’s heart begins to soften. As she is overwhelmed by the beauty, she hears a question stirring within her:
“Why should your heart not dance?”
But once again, Orual reveals the true hardness that lurks within her, when she fights against that urge:
“I was not a fool . . . The gods never send us this invitation to delight so readily or so strongly as when they are preparing some new agony. We are their bubbles; they blow us big before they prick us . . . I ruled myself. Did they think I was nothing but a pipe to be played on as their moment’s fancy chose?”
My heart was saddened by her choice. I wished that she could have known the true God of Compassion whose heart for His children is all filled with Love.
But haven’t I betrayed that very Heart, myself,
when I have mistrusted
that my Lord is doing
Throughout this first month of the year, with my #OneWord of Stillness coloring my days, there is a benefit to Stillness that cannot be received through any kinds of numbing or coping methods. If my heart truly wants to see God’s Compassion, and His longing for intimacy with me, a pause and a softening towards stillness is what is required. His voice cannot be acknowledged in a heart that has hardened itself with its own way of speaking.
So, open my ears,
to hear the pulse of your hearbeat
And still my hearbeat
to match the rythmn
of your very own.
Where my bones have felt
dry and dead,
breathe your life into the damaged ones.
And soften those rigid slopes
where my mind has
resisted your working.
Breathe on me, O breath of God,
and call that Faith to life.
I came across an old song this week, that I must have listened to again and again when I was a young wife. I had no memory of it, even, until the music started, and then I knew each word before he sang it. Has music ever stirred your heart that way? Brought an openness that you weren’t even aware that you needed?
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”
Is there a place of hardness in your heart,
My prayer for you is to feel that breath of God
and choose to ask Him
for that wind to blow across those
and find HIS New Life again.
If you are interested in reading all of the posts pertaining to the book study on C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, you can find an index by clicking here.