I've always loved Chesterton. Before I've wished that Madeleine L'Engle had been my aunt; now I doubly wish G.K. Chesterton had been my grandfather. His simple mirthful innocence and honesty in approaching Christianity never fails to broaden and sharpen my intellect. I am having a delightful time reading Orthodoxy. It's one of those books that I thought I already read years ago, but obviously I realized, never did.

Existence and it's meaning, and life and love-- and trying in vain to discern God's reasoning behind bubbles and bell peppers, have been intensely lurking in my thoughts and under my bed for weeks. This short poem of Chesterton's marched through my mind all day like a somber hymn, strumming the strings of my mind like an ungraceful harpist. It's nothing new. I've read it before.

Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?

Meaning. I'm struggling with meaning. Can a Christian be lost? Not lost in the truest sense, because my darkness is illuminated by the light. But lost as in, what is this light? "I felt in my bones, first that this world does not explain itself... Second, I came to feel as if magic must have a meaning, and meaning must have some one to mean it." One of my favorite passages so far is when he describes this world as a sort of cosmic shipwreck:

"A person's search for meaning resembles a sailor who awakens from a deep sleep and discovers treasure strewn about, relics from a civilization he can barely remember. One by one he picks up the relics- gold coins, a compass, fine clothing- and tries to discern their meaning. Fallen humanity is in such a state. Good things on earth- the natural world, beauty, love, joy- still bear traces of their original purpose, but amnesia mars the image of God in us."

I was so excited upon reading this that during my break at work, I called an employee over and read it to her. I was so excited. To me-- what a genius way to describe it-- this world, truth and life! Sometimes little things have a way of exploding my overly eager mind to produce dramatic thoughts, and well, this quote did it. It brought me abruptly out of my body and jolted me into the space of time- in my mind I surveyed the world and humanity- and I was overwhelmed with the feeling of God, and of the beauty of this place, of its desecration, of its mystery, and of its mystic magic and pure and holy beginning and hope of redemption. We live in a Narnian world.

My spine just tingled.


Joshua Keel said...

Wow, that really is a great Chesterton quote. Every time I read his work I'm amazed at his wisdom. Particularly, I think, in the Father Brown stories. I started reading Orthodoxy a few months ago, but then I had to return it to the library before I could finish. :(

Right now, though, I'm reading A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle, which is excellent. I just finished reading her Walking on Water, which was equally amazing. I think sometime soon I want to re-read Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, though. I'm pretty sure I didn't absorb all it had to say on the first read. :)

emelina said...

I don't think Chesterton would have been a very good grandfather to you, Schmol. He was kind of mean in real life. And as one of my professors once said, "He was difficult to deal with. And required a very large bathtub."

Yes, THOSE are the kinds of things I remember from my college days. Ha.