In particular, Lewis presents a fascinating discussion on the act of choosing gratitude, choosing joy, as a sign of walking in step with the Creator.
Ransom, one of Lewis’ characters, reflects on human’s desire to taste and taste again things that are good, that bring joy and pleasure. To not just enjoy the gift the first time, but to want it over and over. To want it in place of lesser gifts, lesser pleasures, that are offered. To scheme and cheat and kill to experience it again. And to sulk and stew when the desire is not satisfied.
“This itch to have things over again, as if life were a film that could be unrolled twice or even made to work backwards…was it possibly the root of all evil? No: of course the love of money was called that. But money itself-perhaps one valued it chiefly as a defense against chance, a security for being able to have things over again, a means of unresting the unrolling of the film.”
The “Green Woman,” the innocent Eve of the pre-fall planet of Perelandra, doesn’t understand this human feeling of discontent, disillusion, disappointment. Of wanting something that wasn’t given.
She asks, “But how can one wish any of those waves not to reach us which Maleldil (God) is rolling toward us?”
How could we not accept His will and his offerings with joy and trust? It seems obvious in writing, when it’s staring at you from the page, from the theology books, but we don’t.
Ransom tries and tries to explain to her this sense of thwarted expectations, of wanting what we were not given, of mourning what we cannot have.
After awhile of back and forth discussion, the Green Woman, with the dawn of recognition, paints a simply profound metaphor for rejecting joy.
” ‘What you have made me see,’ answered the Lady, ‘is as plain as the sky, but I never saw it before. Yet is has happened every day. One goes into the forest to pick food and already the thought of one fruit rather than another has grown up in one’s mind. Then, may it be, one finds a different fruit and not the fruit one thought of. One joy was expected and another is given. But this I had never noticed before–that the very moment of the finding there is in the mind a kind of thrusting back, or setting aside. The picture of the fruit you have not found is still, for a moment, before you. And if you wished–if it were possible to wish–you could keep it there. You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other.’ “
|Admittedly, it’s easier to rejoice in fruit
when it’s mango and covered in chocolate.
So often we “send our souls” after what we had expected, even hoped and prayed for, while the real fruit, the real gift, rots before us.
The Green Woman had never known she was choosing this joy. In her Edenic world, she has taken each fruit as it came, each wave as it came, with gratitude and trust because she had known no sour fruit, no death, no pain.
She recounts, astonished,
“I thought I was carried in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk with it. I thought that the good things He sent me drew me into them as the waves lift the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my own legs and arms, as when going swimming.”
Even in our fallen world of sin and betrayal and despair, we can choose to dive in, with abandon. Taking, accepting, rejoicing in the wave. Or we can choose to watch it pass us by.
We can choose to set our soul on the fruit He has given THIS day. Or we can choose to yearn for the fruit we had wanted with bitter wishing as the fruit we were given sours in our mouths.
I’ve adapted from The Lord’s Prayer a new phrase, my new morning prayer:
When I awake to the bright, solemn morning, when peanut butter melts into toast, crunchy along the edges and coffee steams from a white polished cup, when I see the clouds smudged across a volcano sky and my hands open in surrender, I will pray,
“Give us this day our daily fruit. And may we take and eat and rejoice in it.”
*Be forewarned this blog may see a proliferation of book reflections because of my newly acquired, two hour/three day a week reading time slot, I mean bus ride, into Guatemala City.