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Posts Tagged ‘C. S. Lewis’

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In our society today (and I expect in any society, at any time in history) there is an unwritten hierarchy of jobs and professions.

Of course the job of a doctor is more essential to our society than that of a garbage collector … until those garbage collectors go on strike, and garbage builds up in the streets, and rats are present in large numbers in our cities, and diseases begin to fun rampant.

Or that of a school administrator is more important than that of a school’s administrative assistant … what am I saying, everyone knows that those who work in the front offices of schools are the ones who really run the schools 😉 .

C.S. Lewis said,
“I reject at one and idea which lingers in the mind of some modern people that cultural activities are in their own right spiritual and meritorious-as though scholars and poets were intrinsically more pleasing to God than scavengers and boot lacks (shoe shiners).

… The work of Beethoven and the work of a charwoman (cleaning woman) become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly ‘as to the Lord,’ ”
(The Weight of Glory)

What is it that makes us prioritize one person’s profession over that of another? What is it that makes one person’s job ‘essential’ and another simply supplementary to that more important role?

It makes me think of the scripture from 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 :

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Each person has a job, like each part of our body has a role to play. One only needs to stub their toe, a part often ignored, to realize how very important that toe is to our balance and our walk. The key is not the value of one profession or job over another, the key is who we are doing the job for, and the effort we are investing in the accomplishing of it.

As I was writing this post, I was listening to Chuck Swindoll speaking on Joshua. He spoke of years ago watching a television broadcast of a Presidential address from Ronald Reagan and how he heard little of what the President said, because he was trying to make out the words on a brass plaque on the President’s desk. The next day his secretary was able to contact the White House and uncover the words :

“There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go
if he does not mind who gets the credit.”

(Charles Edward Montague, English novelist and essayist)

Although those words deliver a good message, I would choose to re-write it, integrating into it the words of C. S. Lewis, as follows:

“There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go
if he will offer it to God, doing it all humbly ‘as to the Lord.”

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There are many important jobs in our world. To work in health care, education, religion, emergency responding and peacekeeping are among the first to pop into my mind. The most important job in the world is none and yet all of these. It is one that all of us, and yet few of us has the pressure and the privilege of fulfilling. It is the job of homemaker.

A more unappreciated job there could not be. In our society today, to be a homemaker is to not have a job, to not have motivation, to not have purpose. And yet it is a job which makes the fulfilling of all other tasks easier, more efficient, more purposeful.

To be a homemaker is to run, and manage, a house and household, often with few resources, little training and no down time. It is to awaken each morning ready to run, for the plans you took to bed to be upset, to probably not rest again until the end of the day when your feet slide back between the sheets. To be a homemaker is to have work clothes that range from grubby denims with holes (ones not made by the denim label, but ones that were ripped inadvertently), to our Sunday best.

A homemaker is one who may spend his or her days patching injured knees to patching holes in someone’s favorite t-shirt to patching holes in walls. A homemaker is one who may spend his or her days scraping hardened egg of breakfast plates, to scraping vomit off carpet to scraping old paint before adding a fresh coat. A homemaker is one who may spend his or her days making meals, making the lives of others in the home smoother, and making ends meet.

The most difficult task of a homemaker is living in a community, a society in which this important job is minimized, disrespected and disregarded.

Although it has been a few years (about ten) since I last proudly claimed to hold the position of homemaker, I still consider it the most important job I never got paid for, and yet the benefits package was the best I have ever encountered.

To all those who call themselves homemakers (and especially to the ones fulfilling that task with preschoolers in tow), I applaud you, and the valuable contribution to those around you, and especially to your children to whom benefit the greatest.

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According to dictionary.com, aesthetic means “having a sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty.”

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In no way does the above definition define aesthetics as something visual, and yet, I think we often put that word into a box labeled “what our eyes see.”

C. S. Lewis said,

“We do not want merely to see beauty… we want something else which can hardly be put into words- to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses, and nymphs and elves.”

To have a sense of, or love for beauty is to be able to seek blessing in the curse, joy in the sorrow, peace in the storm. Sometimes we are able to seek it on our own, and sometimes it is thrust upon us and we have no choice but to say that God, by His grace and mercy have opened our eyes to the beauty that life sometimes tries to hide from our view.

I feel as though I have been surrounded with the subject of beauty everywhere in the past few weeks … in nature, in my reading, in devotions shared by others.

As the season of spring emerges from every piece of the softening terra firma, tree, bush and plant beauty emerges in the pattern set by our Creator in the beginning of time. Some weeks it seems as though a symphony of visual music is being performed in front of my eyes.

Although these visual images of beauty take my breath away, there is a beauty that is even greater.

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In our household, whenever someone says that a particular ‘thing’ is shiny I cheekily respond with, “like a diamond?” (Rihanna song, “Shine Bright like a Diamond”). My kids roll their eyes, big time, then they always respond, “diamonds don’t shine, Mom, they reflect.”

Ann Voskamp, in her book, “One Thousand Gifts”, would seem to echo my kids response:

“All beauty is only reflection.
And whether I am conscious of it or not, any created thing of which I am amazed, it is the glimpse of His face to which I bow down.

To look at the beautiful does create, as C. S. Lewis said above, a longing to not just see it, but to be a part of it. And maybe it is because we want, not to be a part of the beauty, but that which the beauty is a reflection of …

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As a parent who believes in prayer, praying for my kids has been a regular thing since even before they were conceived.

One of the realities of prayer is that it is really more about me, than the one who I am praying for, as I do agree with C.S. Lewis who said, “prayer changes me” in this clip from his Shadowlands story.

But this is not something that I was fully aware of when I was a young mom. In the early days of motherhood I prayed, anticipating that God would grant my every request. Much like Santa with my gift list at Christmas time, I think that I subconsciously believed that if I was obedient to Him (kind of the equivalent to “being a good little girl”) then God would reward me by meeting my every wish and desire that was expressed in my prayers to Him. I may have even believed that I deserved to have my prayers answered.

When my children were young I prayed that they would grow up healthy, would make wise choices, and that they would be opened to God’s leading in their future decisions, especially surrounding their choice of friends, career and their choice of future spouse. These are all good, and I am not saying that I do not wish those things for them, but that I now wish even more for them.

The reality is that character rarely is developed without the exposure to temptation, life is not fully appreciated without the threat of or reality of loss, some of the best choices in life are made on the heels of the stupidest mistakes in our lives, love is rarely long lasting without enduring the struggles, and dependence on God rarely comes without a season of questioning His ways.

Really, the best things in our lives have often been born out of disaster, death and despair. Failures, mistakes and heartbreaks have a way of opening our eyes to what really matters to us, they have a way of drawing us to cling to God like nothing else.

I don’t pray for disaster for our kids, but I also have lived long enough to know that the greatest growth in life can come from the greatest difficulties. I also have lived long enough to know that life is hard, mistakes get made and difficulties will come to everyone in time.

Now I pray that they might have strength, grace and courage when the rough stuff of life happens, and that they might grow closer to their Heavenly Father through it all.

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Why do I believe in an invisible God? Why do I believe that I am a sinner in need of a Savior? Why do I have faith in a man who was executed, who rose from the dead, and then was carried back up into the heavens?

Why do I call myself Christian?

I often wonder if those are the unvoiced questions of people around me who do not share the same beliefs. I often wonder if I have answered them myself, fully and completely. I wonder how many times I have left the scars on the hearts of others for how I have injured the name of the One I follow.

As I traverse this road of life, I do believe that to make such claims means I need to be confident of my beliefs, of my worldview.

From my earliest memories, I have been certain of the presence of an invisible God in my life, and the world. Call it predestination, or Karma or the gift of a awareness of the spiritual around me, as you wish. I think it is something similar, but different, I would call it discernment. Simply put, I believe that one of the peculiarities (or gifts) that my God created me with is a strong intuition of the unseen … I have not had the inner battles that many have had in coming to believe in Creator God, such as author, C. S. Lewis who said, “in the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

It is easy to know that I am a sinner and, as a mom, it is easy to know that we are born with the capacity to sin regularly, and fully. One only needs to spend one day with a toddler to know that we are programmed to not obey the word ‘no’. As an adult, I still struggle to obey the word ‘no’. I struggle to not treat others poorly, I struggle to tell the truth, I struggle to be genuine, to be reliable to be real. I sin and I need a Savior to redeem my sinful nature.

Why do I have faith in a man who was executed, who rose from the dead, and then was carried back up into the heavens? That is harder to answer, for how does one who holds faith so dearly, explain it to those who might not? It truly is a profound mystery. In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, “to one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

So, why do I call myself a Christian?

I know that I am a flawed, unpredictable, unreliable, selfish, individual, and I cannot imagine following any other than One who is all that I am not, and who loves me to death, despite my state of undeserving. It is the grace that is available to me that is the rudder of this life, and there is no better navigator that I can find.

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Since the start of the new year, I have been overcome with light.

The topic of light has been everywhere. It has been in the music I listen to, the ‘pins’ I see (on Pinterest) , the conversations I have had, the classes I assist in, the sermons I have heard. Light has been shining brightly in my eyes!

Now, as spring is progressing, I get to awaken to lightened skies, as the light of the sun push the darkness away, even on the gray and dreary days.

That is what light does … it pushes the darkness away.

As someone who finds the monsoon-like dark winters, where I live, to be rather depressing, I really like how light can push away the darkness. I have even known a certain hubby to try to woo me with moving to places like San Diego, where they get about two hundred and sixty-six days of sun a year (compared with Vancouver, BC’s miserable daily averages of 1.8 and 2.0 hours a day of sunlight in December and January).

When I awaken to even a speck of sun through the clouds, my day looks brighter. When I awaken to dark, gray and rain, I can feel my spirit drop. Light can set the stage for things to come.

I am learning to take joy in the little glimmers of light that I get in the dark months of the wet West Coast. I am gradually understanding that to get outside when the sun does shine, and to speak of the little bits of sun when it does show it’s face, is to store up the positive effects of light, for times when it is hidden by gray clouds.

Really, though, the sun is always there, even though it might be above the clouds. The many shades of gray are only visible because of the presence of light. Without light, there would be no gray, there would be no shadows. Light, cast into the darkness, causes shadows where it cannot reach directly. But, when light is cast into the darkness, our eyes need only to be focused on the light. The light draws our eyes from the darkness, and they follow it’s path.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). He also said that we (who follow him) are like a city built on a hill, visible to all, and if we live in His light, others can see it, and also choose to live in His light. (Matthew 5:14-16 … Carole Wheaton translation 😉 ).

The light is there … even if all we can see are the shadows.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” ~ C. S. Lewis

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It was a beautiful painting. As I stood before the gorgeous combination of colors. The vision of mountains and sky. The strokes of the painters brush … the strokes of a painter of passion, a painter of purpose.

It is a pictorial representation of that familiar description of the aura one having a migraine is often known to speak of. So, in the midst of her beautiful painting, is something like a hole. This ‘hole’ makes the painting look flawed to the point of being painful to view.

One of her purposes in creating this painting was to create a visual for her doctor, to show him what it is she experiences. It could be said that her painting is the picture of the pain no one sees, except for her.

Another picture of pain could be an x-ray, to confirm a broken bone. Or an ultrasound to confirm an ectopic pregnancy.

Sometimes the picture of pain can also be vicarious. Just the other morning a friend was telling me of a sports injury that her husband had suffered. He had thought he had broken a bone, but now it looks more like the muscle was torn from the bone. Just hearing about it caused a shiver down my spine, as I vicariously imagined the pain that must cause.

These are pictures that are bright with the colors of pain.

There is other pain that is more difficult to see, more difficult to experience. It is the pain of the emotion, of the heart. This kind of pain is not visible, like fall colors, but it is hidden in the shadows of our heart.

For people to know that you are suffering with this kind of pain, the one in pain needs to share their experience. I refer to his as bleeding publicly. This unseen pain can be the most mentally, spiritually and even physically altering pain.

The only visual that one suffering the ravages of hidden pains, is one of a hand gripped around ones heart, squeezing tighter and tighter, just to the point that would end it’s pulsing, and the relief of final death.

A broken heart rarely does stop beating. It keeps going, and the pain continues. Gradually it subsides, and the pain lessens. But the scar tissue is permanent, and the person carries their scars, like an amputee carries their scars. We may go to our grave concealing our greatest pains, our greatest injuries.

These scars recreate us. Others may never see our heartaches, but they will see the picture that the pain has created in our re-created self.

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain,
but it is more common and also more hard to bear.
The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden:
it is easier to say
“My tooth is aching”
than to say
“My heart is broken.””
C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain 

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