So I was spending some time with one of my dearest friends this weekend (C.S. Lewis if you must know) and I found myself, once again, reflecting on the eternal world and the reality of this world, specifically how the good on this earth reflects, or is a glimpse of what is to come (not coindentally, I read this after taking a walk outside and where I snapped about 6 random shots of the sky...my love affair with the clouscapes continues). I was reading a collection of some of his most famous essays (thank you Cryssie for the great Christmas gift) and become enraptured with his writings on "Transposition."
In particular, he constructs a short fable where a woman (who also happens to be a talented artist) is captured and placed in a dungeon. She bears a son whilst in said dungeon and attempts to teach him about the outside world through pencil drawings on paper. The gaping hole in these attempts becomes apparent when it is revealed that the boy was living under the misconception that the real world was full of lines drawn in lead pencil. Without the context of these lines, he gets the idea that the "real world is somehow less visible than his mother's pictures." C.S. Lewis continues on with the following:
"So with us. We know not what we shall be; but we may be sure we shall be more, not less, than we were on earth. Our natural experiences (sensory, emotional, imaginative) are only like the drawing, like pencilled lines on flat paper. If they vanish in the risen life, they will vanish only as pencil lines vanish from the real landscape, not as a candle flame that is put out but as a candle flame which becomes invisible because someone has pulled up the blinds, thrown open the shutters and let in the blaze of the risen sun."
"You can put it whichever way you please. You can say that by Transposition our humanity, senses and all, can be made the vehicle of beatitude. Or you can say that the heavenly bounties by Transposition are embodied during this life in our temporal experience. But the second way is better. It is the present life which is the diminution, the symbol, the etiolated, the (as it were) 'vegetarian' substitute. If flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom, that is not becuase they are too solid, too gross, too distinct, too 'illustrious with being.' They are too flimsy, too transitory, too phantasmal."
I'm sure it goes without saying, but I LOVE this concept and the way C.S. Lewis constructs this illustration to give us a way to think about aspects of this world and relate them to the eternal (while still, of course, in a very rudimentary way as we have not seen "behind the curtain"). I love the thought that the world we are living in is but mere pencil lines on flat paper compared to the glory that will be revealed to us when we are united with our Beloved. Can you believe that? Every bright fuschia bouquet of wild flowers is but pencil lines, every glorious sunset bursting with a million different hues of orange, yellow, pink and purple is but dull pencil lines, every majestic forest, every sky full of snowflakes (none of which are the same) -- it's all MERE pencil lines on flat paper. If every good thing is from above and God is the Creator of all things, we are only viewing portraits of the original.
How on earth can this be? It absolutely blows my mind and I get positively giddy just thinking about it. I smile and almost laugh when I think of Mimi and my Grandma running across fields that are greener than anything they have ever seen and drinking from sweeter waters, all within the presence of our Heavenly Father. I want to share in this delight with others, but I think all too often we are much too busy to sit and reflect on the wonder that is to come...and that we get to catch glimpses of every single day.
Do not get me wrong, I know life is less than picturesque most days and becomes muddied with sin that causes pain, suffering, anger, frustration which can all produce sadness and hopelessness which will certainly leave us less than desirous to see the beauty around us and to then, in turn, revel in the overwhelming thought that all this is but a tiny glimpse. But might this thought that this present earth, while positively lovely and full of wonder, is our temporary home. Soak in every sunset, stop and smell every rose and delight in every wave that crashes...and then reflect on the thought that all of this glory is just a pencil line on flat paper.