I have a few things kicking around this head of mine today, all of which stem from Chapter 8 of The Great Divorce… what a fantastic chapter!! I could read it again and again! The imagery is amazing and the message implied and otherwise… nicely done Mr. Lewis!
So Joe has hit a bit of a rough patch, almost like Peter when he steps from the boat in full faith and then begins to doubt, and sink. Joe gets off that bus believing, hoping and excited, ready to explore. Then after a chat with a very cynical ghost he begins to doubt. His faith is tested. What if this place is not what it seems? Why did these spirits who so want to help the ghosts now not want to do anything to help the ‘town’ (otherwise known as hell)? What if they mean to hurt them? What if there is no God but rather an army of spirits or gods who are out to destroy the people from hell? Our Joe is down, and undecided about what to do, he’s looking for answers.
Oh how I feel Joe’s frustration, anxiety and sadness here. To believe so fully and then have something thrown in your path that causes doubt. One thing, that threatens the foundation by which you have set your faith. For me, as most of you know it was my belief in miracles, my belief that God had a ‘good’ plan for Josh’s heart issues… it rocked me. I was sinking and if not for the wonder of God’s healing hand and loving patience I may well have drown in a sea of doubt and lost my faith completely.
Joe as I mentioned is looking for answers, in his search he comes along another conversation between a woman ghost and a spirit who is like the other trying to convince her to move towards the mountains… This ghost touched me. She was shamed, and in that shame was too afraid to step out in faith, too afraid to come our from her hiding place and stand in full view of the others. She instead wants to stay, hiding, scared, hurting, when all she had to do to rid herself of the shame, is to step out from behind her shield, to become transparent and believe, have faith, open her mind to new belief.
The woman says:
“I wish I was never born” then “what are we born for?”
“For infinite happiness” The spirit said “You can step out into it at any moment…”
“But I tell you, they’ll see me.”
“An hour hence and you will not care, a day hence and you will laugh at it Don’t you remember on Earth – there were things too ho to touch with your finger but you could drink them alright? Shame is like that. If you will accept it – i you will drink the cup to the bottom – you will find it nourishing: but try do anything else with it and it scalds“
WOW, step out in faith and leave shame and nakedness behind. What a powerful image.