Sunday, January 29, 2012

Does It Matter To A Man Dying In A Desert By Which Choice Of Route He Missed The Only Well?

First read this excerpt from C.S. Lewis' essay titled A Slip Of The Tongue. I promise is well worth your time.

              'This is my endlessly recurrent temptation: to go down to that Sea (I think St. John of the Cross called God a sea) and there neither dive nor swim nor float, but only dabble and splash, careful not to get out of my depth and holding on to the lifeline which connects me with my things temporal. It is different from the temptations that met us at the beginning of the Christian life. Then we fought against admitting the claims of the eternal at all. And when we had fought, and been beaten, and surrendered, we supposed that all would be fairly plain sailing. This temptation comes later. It is addressed to those who have already admitted the claim in principle and are even making some sort of effort to meet it. Our temptation is too look eagerly for the minimum that will be accepted. We are in fact very like honest but reluctant taxpayers. We approve of an income tax in principle. We make our returns truthfully. But we dread a rise in the tax. We are very careful to pay no more than is necessary. And we hope– we very ardently hope –that after we have paid it there will still be enough left to live on. The lie consists in the suggestion that our best protection is a prudent regard for the safety of our pocket, our habitual indulgences, and our ambitions. But that is quite false. Our real protection is to be sought elsewhere: in common Christian usage, in moral theology, in steady rational thinking, in the advice of good friends and good books.. Swimming lessons are better than a lifeline to the shore. For of course that lifeline is really a death line. There is no parallel to paying taxes and living on the remainder. For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is ourselves. For each of us the Baptist’s words are true: “He must increase and I decrease.” He will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise. For He has, in the last resort, nothing to give us but Himself; and He can give that only insofar as our self-affirming will retires and makes room for Him in our souls. Let us make up our minds to it; there will be nothing “of our own” left over to live on, no “ordinary” life. I do not mean that each of us will necessarily be called to be a martyr or even an ascetic. That’s as may be. For some the Christian life will include much leisure, many occupations we naturally like. But these will be received from God’s hands. In a perfect Christian they would be as much part of his “religion,” his “service,” as his hardest duties, and his feasts would be as Christian as his fasts. What cannot be admitted–what must exist only as an undefeated but daily resisted enemy–is the idea of something that is “our own,” some area in which we are to be “out of school,” on which God has no claim… When we try to keep within us an area of our own, we try to keep an area of death… Thomas More said, “If ye make indentures with God how much ye will serve Him, ye shall find ye have signed both of them yourself.” Law.. said “If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead.” Those are hard words to take. Will it really make no difference whether it was women or patriotism, cocaine or art, whisky or a seat in the Cabinet, money or science? Well, surely no difference that matters. We shall have missed the end for which we are formed and rejected the only thing that satisfies. Does it matter to a man dying in a desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?'

I read this essay at exactly the right time. It struck me to my core, more so than I can put in words. And really, I am not going to expand too much because trying to write something eloquent after being engrossed in the verbiage of C.S. Lewis is simply foolish. 

Let me start by saying, ouch. "Does it matter to a man dying in a dessert by which choice of route he missed the only well?" I found myself a little perturbed after reading this, for I think it is a thought I had been subconsciously grappling with before I read this essay but seeing it pinpointed on paper by another conscious mind who too sees the real danger in calling anything "our own" forced me to identify it as ugly, and even more so, something ugly in me.

Being a self-identified creative personality, I feel as if it can be hard for me to separate worshiping God in light of beauty as opposed to worshiping beauty for beauty's sake. It is a dangerous road, especially the further you travel down it. What starts as a good motive to see and glorify God in the things I enjoy and the ways I express myself slowly, ever so slightly, starts to be replaced by a love for the thing or expression itself. And as I go on in the same vain, I continue to lose more of God and gain more vain self-serving pleasure. Whether you consider yourself a creative person or not, this is a danger and I am sure you know what I am talking about if you are a believer with a pulse.

There comes a point though when my conscious ignorance of where my heart is at mixed with my desire to only "dable and splash" in my relationship with God points unmistakably to an area in my life that has become 'my own.' It doesn't matter if that area is innocent in-and-of-itself, or even if it is valued in Christian circles, the fact that it has become 'my own' is the issue. (To take C.S. Lewis' example and apply it to myself) Whether it be men or exercise, cocaine or fashion, whiskey (too much of course) or aesthetic, money or soccer (fill in the blanks with your own idols). "Does it matter to a man dying in a desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?"

I ask you to grapple with this too, for it is a problem I not only perceive in myself but that is rampant, particularly in my generation of believers. We have become far to pleased with things that aren't inherently evil simply because they are not so; and because we have been 'splashing about' with God we've become far too easily pleased because we have forgotten the satisfaction of a long refreshing 'swim' as well as that claiming anything as "our own" IS inherently evil, in fact it is the original evil.

I realize this post might be little brash and sound more or less like a call to self-denial. It may be the first, but is in no way the second. However, I will never know, we will never know, if it is not the second until we experience the deep sense of joy and purpose that comes from drinking deeply from the well we 'haven't' missed.

To close, I leave you with another C.S. Lewis quote, one of his most famous....

'We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.'

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fun DIY Clutch

E6000, an old clutch and some plastic bling gets you one really cool clutch with a little effort.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday In The City

Our first Sunday back in the City this year proved to be a good one.

First stop was Sight Glass in Soma to get Josh some new coffee.

The space was pretty amazing. Two stories, tons of open space and a crap load of sunlight, my favorite quality in a coffee shop.

Not to mention delicious pastries I will have to try later.

Came across some awesome graffiti art.

Next I went on a walk with my friend Ivana over the Golden Gate.

It sure was beautiful, but super windy as you can tell by the pic below.

And what Sunday would be complete without Shanghai Dumplings? So we stopped by our favorite neighborhood joint to get some with our friend Jeffery and ended the night with some sugar puffs.

Till next Sunday then.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Every Tear A Waterfall

Recently I was struck by a lyric in a Coldplay song, Paradise. Now, I am usually not one to arbitrarily attribute meaning to song lyrics, but I couldn't helped but be overwhelmed by what the words, "every tear a waterfall" meant to me.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts. Even if Chris Martin were to read this and think it rubbish.

About a month ago a went to the gym to release some energy and seek oasis from some heavy thoughts and realities. Feeling overwhelmed, I stepped onto the elliptical  for a mediocre work out and selected the new Coldplay album on my ipod to be my soundtrack. After a few tracks Paradise came on. 

The song revolves around a girl. A girl who has experienced the harsh realities of life and the dreams she has of her so called 'paradise.'

"When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
and the bullets catch in her teeth
Life goes on, it gets so heavy
The wheel breaks the butterfly
Every tear a waterfall
In the night the stormy night she'll close her eyes
In the night the stormy night away she'd fly
and dreams of Para-para-paradise"

In my emo state, I immediately started to apply the lyrics to myself, and experience a little catharsis. What I was not expecting however, was a message of hidden hope. 

As I heard the line, "every tear a waterfall," I was reminded of C.S. Lewis' narrative descriptions of 'Paradise' in The Last Battle and The Great Divorce. In The Last Battle C.S. Lewis describes a Narnian Paradise as a whole new and perfect world, like the last but at the same time nothing like it. Boundless and perfect. I thought of a waterfall described in that world, or maybe I just made up that there was one but I am pretty sure there was. In the book, or in my mind, it was grand, breath taking, like no other waterfall I've ever seen. And then I recalled a line from The Great Divorce, "[Mortals] say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory." Putting the two thoughts together I came up with this dream...

What if this 'agony', these 'tears' I've cried were like a 'waterfall' in paradise, magnificent and full of 'glory'. What if they were not in vain, but would actually be viewed as beautiful  when I meet the Lord, not forgotten but transformed. 

I have no words to express this dream anymore, other than I don't think it is just a dream. I believe there to be truth in it. 

Oh, here is the song in case you to listen. I have no profound thoughts on the elephants.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Morning Jan. 6

 "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
             -- 1 Peter 5:7

It is a happy way of soothing sorrow when we can feel-"HE careth for me." Christian! do not dishonour religion by always wearing a brow of care; come, cast your burden upon your Lord. You are staggering beneath a weight which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to him but as the small dust of the balance. Nothing is so sweet as to

"Lie passive in God's hands,
And know no will but his."

O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in his providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses. There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, his heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the morning. He, if thou art one of his family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not his grace because of thy
tribulation, but believe that he loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might
you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence! With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same. If God cares for you, why need you care too? Can you trust him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens, he has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God.

-Morning & Evening, Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Still Classy Post-Potter

Pony Persona

Ok this was way to fun and probably a huge waste of my time but the little girl inside me screamed for a chance to design my own 'My Little Pony.'

What do you think? Do you see the resemblance? They say you can tell a lot about a person by the way they design their pony.

Create one for yourself at Pony Creator.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Library Tour Anyone?

If I was loaded, which I am by no means even close to, I would tour the libraries of the world. This list of the top 25 most beautiful libraries is sure to convince you to do the same.

A couple of my favorites...

Codrington Library, All Soul’s College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

The University of Coimbra General Library, Coimbra, Portugal

Click here for the rest.