Crystal Hurd joins All Nine Muses!!

I am beyond excited to announce that I have joined the talented scribblers at All Nine Muses!!!  Below is the link to my first post:

I am incredibly grateful to head Muse, poetess, and writer extraordinaire Mrs. Kelly Belmonte for her indispensible friendship and guidance.  I am in awe of these amazing writers!  It is a dream come true to join the ranks of such brilliant wordsmiths.  Please shower love on Kelly and all of the contributors featured on the All Nine site!


Paradise Lost: Examining Lewis’ “The Ecstacy”

The book of Genesis tells us that Adam and Eve are our first parents.  Adam was alone in the utopia of Eden, so God borrowed a rib and made Eve.  The couple then rule unfettered over the land and beasts in Eden, but are prohibited from taking fruit from one specific tree: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  That should not be a problem, seeing that there are many “approved” trees in the Garden.  However, Eve’s curiosity is too much for her.  She is tempted by Satan to taste the forbidden fruit, then shares it with Adam.  After the suspicious snack, they realized that they were naked and hid from God.  For their disobedience, Adam and Eve were banished from Eden.

And we’ve all been cursed with that mistake ever since.

The burden of choice.  Many people have fought and died on battlefields both foreign and domestic for the idea of freedom.  Freedom means we have the right to choose.  No one can make decisions for us or force decisions on us.  But, thanks to the stain of sin, we cannot always be trusted with that freedom.  Sometimes we make poor decisions, we hurt others, we lie, we gossip, we steal, we cheat.  And the choice of Adam and Eve echoes throughout human history and contaminates the present.

Poet John Milton begins his epic narrative Paradise Lost with these words:

Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit

Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast

Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,

With loss of EDEN, till one greater Man

Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat…

Among the consequences of our first transgression is that man must now work the “soil” in order to be fed, women must now endure pain in childbirth, and death must be experienced.  The most significant and painful one, however, is the loss of Eden.  Here the couple had dwelled in pristene beauty, naming the animals and flowers, eating of the fruit, delighting in the presence of God.  And now, that place of delight and throne of God’s favor, had been taken away.  Milton continues:

O unexpected stroke, worse then of Death!

Must I thus leave thee Paradise? thus leave

Thee Native Soile, these happie Walks and Shades,

Fit haunt of Gods? where I had hope to spend,

Quiet though sad, the respit of that day

That must be mortal to us both…

How shall I part, and whither wander down

Into a lower World, to this obscure

And wilde, how shall we breath in other Aire

Less pure, accustomd to immortal Fruits?

Earlier in Paradise Lost, Satan complains that separation from God is a punishment in itself.  Now Adam and Eve, in their sin, experience this same separation.  The deep sense of loss is what C.S. Lewis used in his poem “The Ecstacy”.  Here, Adam and Even are outside of Eden, on the margins of perfection, lamenting about the loss of Eden through their own arrogance:

Long had we crept in cryptic

Delights and doubts on tiptoes,

The air growing purer, clearer

Continually; and nearer

We went on the the centre of

The garden, hand in hand, finger on lip.

On right and left uplifted

The fountains rose with swifter

And steadier, urgence, argent

On steely pillars, larger

Each moment, spreading foamy plumes

Thinner and broader under the blinding sun.

The air grows warmer; firmer

The silence grips it; murmur

Of insect buzz nor business

Of squirrel or bird there is not –

Only the fluttering of the butterflies

Above the empty lawns, dance without noise.

So on we fare and forded

A brook with lilies bordered,

So cold it wrong with anguish

Bitterly our hearts. But language

Cannot at all make manifest

The quiet centre we found on the other side

Never such seal of silence

Did ice on streams or twilight

On birds impose. The pauses

In nature by her laws are

Imperfect; under the surface beats

A sound too constant to be ever observed

From birth its stroke with equal

Dull rhythm, relentless sequence,

Taps on, unfelt, unaltered,

With beat that never falters –

Now known, like breathing, only when

It stopped.  The permanent background failed our ear.

Said the voice of the garden, heard in

Our hearts, ‘That was the burden

Of Time, his sombre drum-beat.

Here – oh hard to come by! –

True stillness dwells and will not change,

Never has changed, never begins or ends.’

Who would not stay there, blither

Than memory knows? but either

Whisper of pride essayed us

Or meddling thought betrayed us,

Then shuddering doubt – oh suddenly

We were outside, back in the wavering world. 

Notice that the poem is written after Adam and Eve have reached “the outside”.  They remember the fountain flowing freely, creating “foamy plumes” as it feeds into a pond.  The garden is now silent; the buzz of insects cannot be heard.  Only the “fluttering of butterflies” above “empty lawns”.  As Adam and Eve attempt to survive on the “other side”, they notice a beautiful brook.  However, this image only inspires bitterness.  It is a fragment of the beauty they left behind, of the perfection lost by their sinful actions.

In stanza six, Lewis mentions a “dull rhythm” which continues infinitely.  In Eden, this endless staccato of Time did not exist.  Yet once Eden was lost, death is born.  Time (capitalization is intentional here) ticks on continually and “never begins nor ends”.

My main focus is on the last stanza.  It is one of deep reflection. “Who would not stay there…?” This world which now wraps around us is hopelessly flawed, similar to (and because of) our human nature.  The memories of Eden make it almost unbearable to live banished from it.  Remember the song of the birds? Remember the beasts we named? Remember the “good” fruit we ate?  All of that is a distant memory now.

The “doubt” Lewis hinted at in stanza one is the root of the issue.  Adam and Eve had everything, and yet, thought they could equal God in power. Satan, of all entities, would know what it is like to lose Heaven by wishing to usurp God.  He is so disappointed at losing Heaven, he resolves to spread his misery but making humans lose “Heaven on Earth” (i.e. Eden).  Humans now struggle with this same pride: “but either Whisper of pride essayed us/Or meddling thought betrayed us,/ Then shuddering doubt”.  The progression of pride and contemplation leads to “The Fall”.

Do we ever wonder “what if”?  What if Adam would have just taken an axe to that tree?  What if Eve would have just lassoed that snake like Walker Texas Ranger and tossed it to the far end of the garden?  But you see, the question “What if?” is what got us in this horrible mess in the first place.  What if we could be like God?  “What if” I can share God’s power?  We are too flawed to have such a burden.

Do not be mistaken, our culture still suffers from the sin of pride.  We see it when scientists deny the existence of God because faith is not “rational”.  We see it (and often feel it) when others condescend or think they are better than most.  We see it when a gift is transformed to a privilege or an elitist attitude- when someone who is blessed knows they are blessed. Humility, like Eden, is lost.

Why do we continue to lose our way?  Have we learned nothing since losing Eden?   Do we need the echo of the lost song of birds to ring in our ears like it did for Adam and Eve?  Must we remember the vision of “empty lawns” and cascading fountains to provoke us to live better?

At one time, we chose disobedience.  Now, let us choose the better path – one of obedience that will one day restore Eden to us.

Where Senses Fail?: Lewis’ “On Being Human”

Back when I was in college, a romantic film was released in theaters which chronicled an angel’s quest to become human. Angel Seth falls figuratively (and later literally) for a human physician named Maggie Rice.  Seth is jealous of Maggie’s ability to taste the rich juices of an apple, to inhale the fragrance of the autumn leaves, to enjoy all of the ecstacies of being human.  Seth eventually falls from a building to gain humanity.  He spends one glorious night with her.  The next morning, as Seth feels the first sensations of a hot shower raining down on his newly acquired skin, Maggie cycles on a mountain road, her hands outstretched as if she is trying to embrace the wind.  The breeze caresses her face, but distracts her from a truck pulling into her path.  Her last sensation is pain.  Seth, now fully christened to his physical body, must also endure another human experience – grief.  As the film ends, Seth adjusts to his new life with a physical presence, but without Maggie.  Consequently, Seth paid a high price to become human.

Hmmmm.  What a concept.  Angels jealous of humans?

I Peter 1:10-12 states this: Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

Angels long to possess humanity?  What on earth (or in Heaven) would attract a servant of God to desire our station?  With our myriad of faults, humanity can be barely tolerable at times. But perhaps City of Angels is on to something.  Are there experiences inherent to the human condition which inspire celestial beings to wish for the opportunity to be human?  Angels have access to the very essence of Heaven.  It is a grand mystery why they would, for one brief moment, exchange all of Heaven for the use of the senses, for the chance to feelTo feel can be both a blessing and a curse; it introduces us to intensity on both ends of a spectrum.

Lewis explored these things in an obscure yet fantastic poem called “On Being Human”

Angelic minds, they say, by simple intelligence

Behold the Forms of nature. They discern

Unerringly the Archtypes, all the verities

Which mortals lack or indirectly learn.

Transparent in primorial truth, unvarying,

Pure Earthness and right Stonehood from their clear,

High eminence are seen; unveiled, the seminal

Huge Principles appear.

The Tree-ness of the tree they know – the meaning of

Arboreal life, how from earth’s salty lap

The solar beam uplifts it, all the holiness

Enacted by leaves’ fall and rising sap;

But never an angel knows the knife-edged severance

Of sun from shadow where the trees begin,

The blessed cool at every pore caressing us

-An angel has no skin.

They see the Form of Air; but morals breathing it

Drink the whole summer down into the breast.

The lavish pinks, the field new-mown, the ravishing

Sea-smells, the wood-fire smoke that whispers Rest.

The tremor on the rippled pool of memory

That from each smell in widening circles goes,

The pleasure and the pang – can angels measure it?

An angel has no nose.

The nourishing of life, and how it flourishes

On death, and why, they utterly know; but not

The hill-born, earthy spring, the dark cold bilberries

The ripe peach from the southern wall still hot,

Full-bellied tankards foamy-topped, the delicate

Half-lyric lamb, a new loaf’s billowy curves,

Nor porridge, nor the tingling taste of oranges –

An angel has no nerves.

Far richer they! I know the senses’ witchery

Guards us, like air, from heavens too big to see;

Imminent death to man that barb’d sublimity

And dazzling edge of beauty unsheathed would be.

Yet here, within this tiny, charm’d interior,

This parlour of the brain, their Maker shares

With living men some secrets in a privacy

Forever ours, not theirs.

Lewis reveals that angels know how things are formed and made, understand the physics of the world and yet, have never experienced it.  They are the engineers who know the automobile, are acquainted with the precise dimensions of the engine and the contours of its design, yet never know how it feels to drive it.  We, on the other hand, cannot comprehend the enigmas of faith, yet feel the connection with our Savior, a feeling that surpasses all other emotions.  Feeling is quite a luxury.

As humans, we have a knack for taking things for granted.  What delight there is, we often forget, when we bite a Reece Cup, the tastes of chocolate and peanut butter mingling on our tongues.  We rush along, failing to acknowledge the aroma of summer rain in the air, damp blossoms and the “smell of green”.  We fail to recognize the intense pleasure of running a hand down the lush coat of our favorite pet (if it has fur…) or the womb-like fuzzy blanket that wraps around us as we slip under it on winter evenings.

And angels can’t experience these things.

Have you ever sat around a fire with friends and when you briefly turn aside, still feel the heat radiating from your cheek?  Have you really listened to the tune of birds when you wake up in the morning?  Being human can be problematic, but also has many advantages.  God has made us in His image; we are His sons and daughters.  He loved us so much, He willingly gave his Son to carry our burdens and sins. Of course angels are jealous.  We are heirs to a beautiful kingdom and glory far beyond our comprehension.  They have seen the kingdom already, but we will experience it infinitely.

Our senses introduce us to a world of experiences, ones we often neglect.  Earlier today, I complained to my husband that we were running low on bread, but have I ever enjoyed the “new loaf’s billowy curves”?  I don’t think I have, but I should. Our senses may be “witchery” which may guard us against the “heavens too big to see” but they grant us a full encounter with God – an encounter brimming with possibilities to interact supernaturally to depths that cannot be equalled by angels.

Resolve today to utilize your senses to their height.  Appreciate the experience of “being human” and make angels envious.


“Spirits In Bondage”: Pre-Theistic Lewis

During his final interview in May 1963, C.S. Lewis claimed that his role in his own conversion was surprisingly passive.  One simply makes a decision to follow Christ, but Lewis sees his conversion more as a recognition of “being chosen”, not necessarily of “choosing”.  “I was glad afterwards at the way it came out,” Lewis admits, “but at the moment what I heard was God saying, ‘Put down your gun and we’ll talk.’”

What irony saturates the final statement.  Lewis views his conversion more as a concession.  He, the mortal armed with intelligence and spiritual reluctance, while God boldly waves the white flag in negotiation.  Of course it was Lewis who would ultimately surrender to Christ, but the war metaphor is quite fitting for Lewis’ life.  Few know that Lewis was a World War I veteran.  As an Irish citizen, he was not required to apply for the draft, however, Lewis chose to volunteer in the war effort (as his brother Warnie also did).  He celebrated his 19th birthday on the battlefields of WWI, watching in horror as his friends succumbed to injuries.  Lewis himself would sustain wounds during the Battle of Arras in France.  It was during his convalescence that Lewis read G.K. Chesterton for the first time.  Surely this was a divine strategy, as Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man is a work that Lewis dearly admired and credited in helping establish his faith.  But uncovering Chesterton was one of a few fond artifacts of his war experiences.  In his autobiography Surprised by Joy in the chapter “Guns and Good Company”, Lewis admits that he lost several friends, among them a young Oxford scholar named Johnson who “would have been a life-long friend if he had not been killed”.  He also discusses Sergeant Ayres who was “killed by the same shell that wounded me” and who also showed genuine compassion for the young soldier Lewis. Lewis continues, “…he turned this ridiculous and painful relation into something beautiful, became to me almost like a father”.

As the young Lewis marched to and fro across France, he carried with him a notebook. Here he furiously scribbled his reflections on war, on the utter chaos man creates, and his spiritual bankruptcy.  After the war, Lewis would publish his dark recollections as Spirits in Bondage: A Cycle of Lyrics. Published under the pseudonym Clive Hamilton (his mother’s maiden name), Lewis celebrated his first publication, hence public validation of his work. *Note: George Sayer states in his biography Jack: C.S. Lewis and His Times that the original publication bore the name “George Lewis” and “Lieut. G.S. Lewis”.

However, it is a far cry from the Lewis most know; the Lewis who crafted the fine wisdom of Mere Christianity, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Screwtape Letters.  This Lewis was only a few years removed from the death of his mother, had endured ceaseless torture from other boys in boarding schools, and then came under the tutelage of the intelligent yet religiously dismissive Mr. Kirkpatrick. His disenchanted perspective of the world is captured in the second section of Spirits in Bondage, a piece titled “French Nocturne (Monchy-Le-Preux)”:

Long leagues on either hand the trenches spread

And all is still; now even this gross line

Drinks in the frosty silence divine

The pale, green moon is riding overhead.

The jaws of a sacked village, stark and grim;

Out on the ridge have swallowed up the sun,

And in one angry streak his blood has run

To left and right along the horizon dim.

There comes a buzzing plane: and now it seems

Flies straight into the moon. Lo! where he steers

Across the pallid globe and surely nears

In that white land some harbour of dear dreams!

False mocking fancy!

Once I too could dream,

Who now can only see with vulgar eye

That he’s no nearer to the moon that I

And she’s a stone that catches the sun’s beam.

What call have I to dream of anything?

I am a wolf. Back to the world again,

And speech of fellow-brutes hat once were men

Our throats can bark for slaughter: cannot sing.

The poem begins in the evening after an attack on a village.  Notice Lewis’ use of darkness here to also indicate the absence of morality, civility, and compassion.  Out among the trenches, Lewis notices that “all is still” now where earlier chaos had once reigned.  The silence, which Lewis refers to as “divine”, inhabits the trenches and its men.  The moon is overhead, illuminating the ruin of the village; the village “jaws” have “swallowed the sun” or eliminated all means of hope.  A plane flies over, and seems to fly “straight into the moon”; Lewis imagines the moon as a symbol of dreams. This is obviously an image conjured up in his childhood, but as a young, disoriented adult, he dismisses the childish notion that the moon “harbours of dear dreams”.

Lewis reveals this misguided notion as a farce – “False mocking Fancy!”  And then, the poet draws the reader to himself.  “Once I too could dream/Who now can only see with vulgar eye”.  Lewis has been contaminated by his war experiences.  Once a young boy who experienced a brief encounter with “joy” in a toy garden, now Lewis is a young man, shooting bullets at an unacquainted enemy, astonished beyond disbelief at “horribly smashed men still moving like half-crushed beetles, the sitting or standing corpses…”.  His dreams have vanished, replaced with uncertainty and confusion.  Lewis transforms the beauty of the moon, a symbol of childhood fantasy, into merely an echo of something else, a plain and prosaic rock: “she’s a stone that catches the sun’s beam.”  The moon is nothing on it’s own, rather it reflects a small portion of the absent sun.  Ah, darkness again.  Lewis is empty of emotions, of hope: “What call have I to dream of anything?”  He and his fellow soldiers squirm into foxholes, shoot into a midst of enemies, suffer through shellings and pouring rain and endless marching.  What is there to live for?  Lewis sees himself fundamentally altered: “I am a wolf / Back to the world again”.  He snaps out of his delusion of childhood, of the ideas which poisoned him as a boy.  Deep in the trenches, where his fingers wrap tightly around his rifle, his knapsack is muddy, and his hope is dashed, Lewis has lost his innocence.  The men are changed from men to animals – “fellow-brutes that once were men” open their mouths to sing, but can only “bark” like carnivorous beasts.

An interesting aside, Lewis’ first poem in the collection, titled “Satan Speaks”, uses first-person narration to illustrate how Satan (and darkness) are omnipresent.  This is quite ironic because later Lewis will craft his epistolary masterpiece The Screwtape Letters in the voice of the devil to his protege Wormwood.  Most surprisingly, the first words of Lewis ever officially published are actually words spoken by Satan:

I am Nature, the Mighty Mother,

I am the law; ye have none other.

I am the flower and the dewdrop fresh,

I am the lust in your itching flesh.

I am the battle’s filth and strain,

I am the widow’s empty pain.

I am the sea to smother your breath,

I am the bomb, the falling death.

I am the fact and the crushing reason

To thwart your fantasy’s new-born treason.

I am the spider making her net,

I am the beast with jaws blood-wet.

I am a wolf that follows the sun

and I will catch him ere day be done.

Notice here, in comparing the two poems, that Lewis consistently uses the imagery of death, and more specifically, the repetition of the words “wolf” and “jaws”. In one poem, the term “wolf” describes Satan; in the other it describes Lewis.   Lewis uses contrasting images, one of birth and refreshment (the “flower” and “dewdrop fresh”) juxtaposed with images of death and entrapment ( the smothering sea, the widow’s pain, the “bomb” and the spider’s “net”).  Satan is the “reason” that crushes the “fantasy”, an obvious reference to the faith he no longer embraces.  However, even in Lewis’ spiritual drought, he conjures up authentic imagery of Satan’s deceptive lure, the one who ends the “fantasy” with his dark reality.  If he set out to make Christianity unattractive, he certainly made Satan all the more undesirable in these verses.

Overall, Spirits in Bondage illustrates a young Lewis who is ripening with potential as a writer.  The overt references to his faith are certainly absent, but small roots are stretching beneath, slowly forming the philosophical Lewis who would progress into a voice of optimism during the second world war.   Lewis is not forthcoming with many of his war experiences.  In fact, he states in Surprised by Joy:

It is too cut off from the rest of my experience and often seems to have happened to someone else.  It is even in a way unimportant.  One imaginative moment seems now to matter more than the realities that followed.  It was the first bullet I heard – so far from me that it ‘whined’ like a journalist’s or a peacetime poet’s bullet.  At that moment there was something not exactly like fear, much less like indifference: a little quivering signal that said, ‘This is War.  This is what Homer wrote about.’ 

Next week, I will continue with more from Lewis’ Spirits in Bondage.





“As the Ruin Falls”: Inaugural Post on the Poetry of C.S. Lewis

A couple of weeks ago, I corresponded with my friend and fellow scribbler Kelly Belmonte ( about changing the direction for this blog.  I felt that my inspiration was running dry, a side effect of juggling work and life.  I have been fascinated by the poetry of C.S. Lewis for some time, and thus wished to dive more deeply into his verse.   Many are unaware that Lewis aspired to be a poet as a young man.  Just recently, Dr. Holly Ordway of Houston Baptist University posted a fantastic reflection of Lewis’ “The Apologist’s Evening Prayer” (located on Kelly’s site mentioned above).

For the next few weeks, I wish to examine more of Lewis’ poetry.  This week, the first post will discuss a popular poem by Lewis utilized by author Donald Miller, who penned such spiritually-imbued works as Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  Some have spectulated that Miller is the Lewis of our generation, a man who accurately records his impressions of culture, capturing the spiritual zeitgeist with honesty and vulnerability.  In his autobiographical exploration Blue Like Jazz, Miller borrows some verses from Lewis’ “As the Ruin Falls”:

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.

I never had a selfless thought since I was born.

I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:

I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.


Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,

I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:

I talk of love – a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek –

But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin,


Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.

I see the chasm. And everything you are was making

My heart into a bridge by which I might get back

From exile, and grow man.  and now the bridge is breaking.


For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains

You give me are more precious than all other gains.

One of the traits I most admire about Lewis is his humility.  He spoke at length about the unbridled pride which infects like a disease;  it is the root of arrogance and condescension.  In the first few lines, Lewis dissolves the pretentious nature of spiritual “rhetoric”.  How often have the age-old rhymes sprang from our lips, stirred more by tradition than passion?  Do we mutter these phrases in earnest praise or from spiritual obligation?  Some may ask, “What is the difference?”  Everything.  The difference is everything.  Love, as Lewis illuminates, is hollow here.  The only love present is love for the self.  The truth, Lewis states, is in the pudding.  Actions, motivations, and decisions reveal what is truly adored – “me”.  In fact, the theme of “I” has been a motif since birth, creating mercenaries who will conquer with fierce enthusiasm for the laurel and crowns of self-achievement.  Our focus is exclusionary; only topics of great personal concern are noteworthy.

That narrow perspective can be confining, using relationships (even one with a benevolent God) to simply acquire more for ourselves (“I want God, you , all friends, merely to serve my turn”).  Lewis once wrote to a correspondent that humanity has two basic motivations for completing a task:  1) because it is compulsory or 2) because it brings pleasure and joy.  Basically, we “have to” or we “want to”.  We  seek “peace, re-assurance, and pleasure” because we desire them, and will forsake all others to achieve them.  However, there is something deeply troubling about this aspect of our nature. Why can’t we extend our concern for ourselves to each other?  What will we lose/gain in the transaction?  Often many seek opportunities to destroy rather than to build.  We understand that our salvation is a gift, and yet, we are often guilty of indulging a nagging self-righteousness.  We lie, we gossip, we steal, we judge…and we all understand that we are flawed.  And so settles our passion into a stew of spiritual mediocrity and contradiction.

Lewis’ message here: Do not be comfortable with your brokenness.  Strive for something better.

Perpetual brokenness is Lewis’ theme.  I will always end where I begin, in a fog of my own selfishness.  I am consumed with myself.  It is difficult to “crawl one inch outside my proper skin” because I am narcissistic and hopelessly unsatisfied.  It is, as Lewis describes, a “self-prison”, locked up within the shallow perimeter of my understanding.  I proudly construct my ideal, and watch hopelessly as it crumbles.  Today, in a writing exercise, I contemplated how Shakespeare’s characters always blamed Fortuna (the mythological goddess of fortune and luck) for their poor circumstance.  However, the characters were only experiencing the consequences of their decisions.  “Oh, I am Fortune’s Fool”, cries Romeo.  But Romeo, in his naivety, does not understand that “falling in love” with a new acquaintance who happens to be an adversary is an improbable reality.  Fortune is not to blame.

In the third stanza, clarity arrives at last.  God reveals to Lewis his “lack” and he acknowledges the wide separation.  God is constructing a “bridge” to help us return to him, a bridge that will rescue us from self-exile.  Once Lewis and all of us are free from ourselves, we will gradually develop into who God wants us to be.  And yet, we prevent it.  We get in our own way. “The bridge is breaking”, Lewis writes.  We dismantle the work God performed on us, lifting the planks and pulling out nails.  Piece by piece we come apart again.

And when the ruin falls, the poet utters a blessing.  The pain is one of holy recognition.  Our brokenness is an ever-present obstacle.  Blame Adam and Eve (like Shakespeare’s protagonists blamed Fortuna) but ultimately Eden is forbidden.  We lost it long ago and in its absence, we were introduced to the long struggle which haunts us infinitely.  The cycle continues uninterrupted.  We fall, we stagger, we stand, we fall again.  Thank God for his mercy.

No matter how many consecutive weeks you have attended a church service or elderly ladies you have assisted across a busy street, we are all broken.  We all possess a sinful nature.   Brokenness cannot be cured by a pill or extinguished by therapy.  One can learn to cope with the consequences of being broken.  For example, one can attend therapy to move through a rough time or seek counseling in order to receive healing.  But understand this:  we will always fall short of God’s glory.  We can never earn it.  There should never come a moment when we are comfortable with God enough to be convinced that He simply ignores our transgressions.  Do not abuse his grace.  Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  God does not use a scale to weigh our worth; His justice and mercy eliminate the need for one.  We are sons and daughters, but servants still.  We should continually be in awe of God, of the sacrifice that grants us freedom and eternity.  The grace and mercy of our Father should never become commonplace.  As He renews your mind, renew your devotion.

So as the ruin falls, praise the One who consistently begins to repair the mess.  Watch Him create something wonderful and appreciate the wisdom of each experience.