Thursday, July 26, 2012

Going Another Direction

Lewis closes his address entitled "The Inner Ring" with the words: "The true road lies in quite another direction.  It is like the house in Alice Through the Looking Glass."  To what is this a reference?

In the story, Alice sees the reflection of her own house in the mirror which is over a mantlepiece.  She thinks that it would be very interesting to get into that other house.  By magic, she is able to pass through the looking glass into the other house.  However, when she gets there, she does not find it all that pleasant, and decides to go out of the house into the garden.  She sees a hill and thinks that, if she could get to the top of that hill, she could see the garden better.  So, she aspires to arrive on the hill, but she finds that, however she tries to get there, she always winds up back at the house somehow.

In the meantime, she sees the Red Queen and desires to talk to her.  When she tries to get to the Red Queen, again, she winds up back at the house.  The flowers tell her "to walk the other way," but that seems nonsensical - to walk in the direction you do not want to go to get to where you want to be.  However, after running back into the house again, she tries their plan, to walk in the opposite direction, and it "succeeded beautifully."

Lewis reminds us that, to a young person, the life of the wide world around us seems to be full of various kinds of things that we think we would like.  The youth therefore desires to enter this world.  However, once he gets there, he finds that it was not worth the trouble.  True friendship, true and good belonging, "lies in quite another direction."  In order for the youth to really have what he desires, he must go in a direction opposite to that which seems to lead to his desires.  If we keep pursuing fulfillment in the wrong direction, we will keep running into the House; the place we don't want to be in any more.  I think that this is what Lewis means when he says that the pursuit of the "inner ring" can be like the house in the story.  

Jesus challenges us to die to our own ways that we may live, does he not?  We are to follow a call that seems to be the opposite of what we want; we enter a path of death on a cross that we may live forever. If we listen to the flowers and follow their Maker's instructions, we find that it succeeds beautifully.

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