Thursday, 16 August 2007

The Hounds of Love

"That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me.
In the Trinity term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God,
and knelt and prayed....
The words 'compel them to come in' have been so abused by wicked men
that we shudder at them, but properly understood, they touch the depths of divine mercy.

The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men,
and His compulsion is our liberation".
C S Lewis - Surprised by Joy.

We all have them - those days when we have to face some truth, however strange, surprising or painful, that we know is going to change our lives forever.

As you get older, there seem to be more of them (or at least, they hit closer to home) - people and places change, and the face you used to look at happily every morning has certainly gained a few more 'character features' the last few years (!), but perhaps the biggest impact of these things is what occurs inwardly - how our view of life and the world 'shifts' accordingly.

The Genesis record tells us that the general framework of life as we now know it changed on a particular day, when Creation became marked by a human rebellion, and, as a result tainted by death, futility and decay. That is bad enough, but the 'shift' that occurred in the human condition was total.

Instead of reveling in the glory of their natural form and grace, humanity had now rushed headlong into a culture of shameful hiding and denial. Denuded of their true life, man and woman would quickly seek to mask their evil - the blame should be placed elsewhere!

We could spend time looking at this in depth (perhaps we will - in a later blog), but what marks this event is something far more vital - the pursuit of God.

Rather than leave us to our own impoverished devices, God seeks and finds us, and requires us to face up to the realities of our choices and actions, and for very good reason. Only when you have properly diagnosed the disease can you treat it with the cure.

The process of change that occurred in the life of C S Lewis was slow and gradual - a thought here, a phrase there - but "a conviction was growing in him that the spirit exists and that we come into contact with this through our inner sense - aesthetics, astonishment, marvel in beauty - those 'glimpses' which call us to deeply look beyond the moment to something behind the moment" (Finding the Landlord by Kathryn Lindskoog). Finally, through the accumulation of such moments of awareness, the 'hound of heaven', as Lewis wrote himself, tracked him down.

The message of faith is that there is a need to discover the God who once walked the garden with men (who is still looking for us!) - that every aspect of life is woven with something deeper: a God who is speaking to us - and what a message!

The aim and intent of all that we are and that surrounds us is not temporal, but eternal! It is this world that God is reconciling to Himself through Christ - this is the place where 'eternity' - at least for us - begins, and will continue...How much of our spirituality stems from there?

Perhaps, when we look in the mirror tomorrow, we could spend a moment reflecting on those truths. That might put a smile on that 'seasoned' face...!

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