C.S. Lewis said; “Isn’t life interesting. One day everything looks the same and then, after some time passes, all things look differently.”
Yesterday, just after noon, I heard a door slam outside of our front door. I went outside and there was a large truck with a crane in the driveway turning around and reversing toward the backyard. I had no idea what was going on so I asked, more rudely then I intended, “Can I help you?” I shouted to the man over the noise of the truck who was directing the driver. “We’re here to pick up your propane tank!” he shouted back. Then it all made sense. Over a year ago we turned off the propane and called the propane company to come and pick up the tank. At long last, they were here and after only a few minutes they were gone with the tank on a flatbed truck.
It was dark when I got home last night so I didn’t ask Beth if she noticed any difference in the yard. This morning, however, as I walked her outside for work I popped the question. “I don’t see anything,‘ she said looking around. “Look harder.” I encouraged her. Wham! She saw it or rather didn’t see it. “They came and got the tank!” Eyes opened and a big smile.
Plato says; “We should not judge anyone’s progress no matter how slowly.”
It’s important for those of us who are slow to change, find it difficult to see the difference, to discover we are making progress. Wisdom teaches us not to be in a rush. Trust the way and it will lead us home.
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Good Looking –
I heard someone say the other day that a person needs to be good-looking in order to see. I liked that turn of phrase. Often we think of being good-looking as being, handsome, pretty, “easy on the eyes.” We think of it as someone looking at us and thinking we are attractive. Much of our culture is obsessed with being perfect, interesting, and wanting others to think good about us. To be good-looking is the goal when we are focused on ourselves.
Let’s turn it around. What if good-looking was about finding the positive in others and in our world? What if good-looking was a concept we took to heart and a discipline we developed? What if we stopped being concerned with whether or not others found us, our lives, attractive and we started finding the unique beauty inherent in almost all things? Our world would be transformed if we thought and focused on others more.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” #CSLewis
Absence of Disease –
This afternoon, at a staff meeting, we listened to a Harvard University graduate talk about happiness, mindfulness, and contentment. He was humorous and engaging with lots of information.
One of the things he said that seemed to resonate with the staff was; “Absence of disease is not health.” It takes a while for the truth of this sentence to sink in. We often think sickness, a diagnosis, a trouble, challenge, a difficulty, is what keeps us from a contented life. Perhaps it’s a new job, losing weight, a promotion, a relationship or whatever that will make us happy.
Wisdom teaches us that anytime our quality of life depends on outward circumstances we are not where we need to be, ie: unhealthy. CS Lewis says; “Never let your happiness depend on something which can be taken away.”
Better Things –
A few weeks ago we bought a new riding lawn mower (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/06/15/need-help/). At checkout we learned that we’d receive in the mail a $50 gift card. This past week a letter arrived in the mail stating that unfortunately we had not met the requirements for the receipt of the gift card. Beth knew we had more than spent and done what was necessary to receive the card and called to complain. After explaining what had happened to the Lowe’s customer assistant, she was assured that not only were we eligible for a gift card but that it was $200 instead of $50. Awesome! If a $50 gift card would have arrived in the mail we wouldn’t have thought twice about it, spent it and moved on with life. Only because we were denied what we thought we earned did we receive an even greater gift.
When I was in high school I dated a young woman my junior and senior year. I graduated a year before she did and went off to college. Not long after arriving at school I received a phone call from her stating she no longer wanted to be a couple. Her words broke my heart. I remember praying that somehow we’d get back together but it never happened. A few months later I met Beth and we’ve been married for over 26 years.
Often in life we don’t receive what we expect or think we deserve. Our first reaction might be to complain and demand satisfaction for the loss. Perhaps we should not be so hasty. As C.S. Lewis wrote; “there are far greater things ahead of us than what we leave behind.”
“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you.
I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”
“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.”
-CS Lewis, “The Voyage of the DawnTreader”
The story above is one of my favorites from CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series. A spoiled, rotten, obnoxious boy named Eustace attempts to steal a dragon’s gold and is himself turned into a dragon. No matter how hard he tries he cannot free himself from the scaled skin which holds him captive. His monstrous greed, selfishness and arrogance has imprisoned him. Then he meets Aslan, the mystical and powerful lion, who sets him free.
This morning I connected with a friend who, along with her husband, have journeyed a path very similar to the one my wife and I have walked. They are good friends and mentors. We were discussing the hurt and pain that can be inflicted upon us by those who are members of the community of God.
I told my friend that this path has led me to strange and uncomfortable places. It has taken me away from the desire for the wrongs to be righted, the people who hurt me punished and instead to confront my own ego and misplaced trust. I have been forced to face the beasts inside of me and am being stripped of their hold on me.
“I’m reminded of Eustace in CS Lewis’ “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” I said. “When Aslan pierces the dragon hide with his claw and the pain is great but the freedom is greater.”