As you know we have been reading The Great Divorce, we moved into Chapter 6 and I was in awe at the way C.S. Lewis so eloquently described this particular character (the man with the Bowler hat). At the beginning of the story this man was talking with our Joe on the bus about his reasons for being on the bus. He described a lack of ‘tangible’ things in hell. He spoke of his desire to go to heaven and bring back items that are ‘real’ for the betterment of society. He wanted to bring people closer together, open a shop where you could get ‘real’ items, thus making people move closer together and ultimately serving himself, his standing in society and his wallet.
In chapter 6, Joe finds himself in a meadow near a great waterfall, he watches as the ghost in the Bowler hat tries through great pain and agony to gather apples from a tree. The apples are very heavy, and he has to struggle with a great amount of pain to gain even one of these apples to take back to hell. He suffers scrapes, deep wounds and agony and yet he will not give up. He continues for hours through this agony even after hearing a voice say ‘Drop it you fool!’ even after hearing that voice offer something so much more real, offers him to learn how to eat those apples here in heaven, rather than suffer the pain of just trying to pick it up for hell. It was a stunning look at how we as humans are in a constant struggle to gain the tangible, going in circles, causing ourselves pain and agony because we don’t want to give up our own wants, our own betterment and our own success. The pain we are willing to suffer simply because we won’t drop it is something that we all do and none of us with any success. Yet, when we give up, when we drop it, we are being offered a life of eating those tasty treats.
Why then do we cause ourselves the agony? Why not just drop it, whatever our ‘it’ might be? Our control, our selfishness, our victim hood, our idolatry and ultimately our agonies… When if only, we could just surrender those things we could live in the perfection of God’s glory?