Till We Have Faces

I said last month that I wanted to cuddle up with some C.S. Lewis during December, and I did. Thanks to my your recommendations (Jennifer, Rustin and I can’t remember who else), I chose Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold — Lewis’ “ultimate” novel.  (And Catherine, the space triology is next!)

I don’t tend to pick up fiction (not sure why), but I am sure glad I did.  As the snow started to fall here in the Midwest, the nights grew very long and dark and our imaginations turned toward Christmas stories like the original nativity and so many more, it was good to fall into a story from far, far away and long, long ago.

I’ll try not to spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet, but in essence, Till We Have Faces is an imaginative retelling of the timeless story of Cupid and Psyche.  Now I didn’t know much about Cupid other than him being a big chubby baby that flings love-arrows at unsuspecting singles, but it turns out there’s more to the ancient Greek myth than that.

What’s interesting is that when Lewis heard the story of Cupid and Psyche as an undergraduate (perhaps still a teenager), there was one piece of it that didn’t make sense to him.  In the legend, when Psyche (born a mortal) is off living in a magnificent palace with her new husband, the god Cupid, it goes that her sisters were jealous of her and plotted to make her do something that would ruin her life.  Psyche did what they provoked her to do, and it did indeed ruin her happiness.

But Lewis never accepted that telling of the story.  Though just a simple detail, Lewis felt that surely the sisters could not see the divine magnificent palace.  They weren’t jealous; they simply didn’t have eyes to see the dwelling of the god Cupid.

Let me put it one other way.  When Lewis started thinking about this story as a teenager, he approached it from the angle that the humans were in the right (their doubts were well-justified) and the gods were wrong.  It wasn’t fair!  It wasn’t that they were jealous of their sister; they simply couldn’t see her new palace and concluded that she must be mentally unstable.  She must be living in a make-believe world and they had to end it for her own safety.

But as anyone who knows Lewis knows, the author of this book wasn’t the same person a teenager that he was later in life.  At the age of 32, C.S. Lewis had a profound conversion experience.  He reoriented his life away from doubt and instead, embraced Jesus Christ.  He became a Christian.

My favorite part of the book is, of course, the end.  Well now I am really spoiling it for people who haven’t read it.  Dang it, stop reading this blog now and go get the book!

Anyway, the end is satisfying and not.  I’m curious what someone whose heart isn’t open to God would think of it.  After hundreds of pages of the narrator making her firm case against the gods, she finally gets her answer in the end.  Of course, it’s not the answer(s) she expected.

It reminds me of something that Os Guinness is famous for saying to confused college graduates wondering what to do with their lives: “We are not called to something; we are called to Someone.”

Somehow, that is all the answer we need in life.


Cathartic Thanksgiving rant

Ah, a new post.  And I love the big blue “Publish” button on the right hand side of my screen.  To think!  All the real paper, and ink, and candlelight, and blood, sweat and tears it used to require to publish something.  Thanks to the internet, we can all be published, and published immediately, for better or for worse.

Though I usually love writing, I often struggle with writing at work.  Partly that’s because copywriting is a totally different kind of animal.  There’s no room for stream-of-consciousness, diary-style, emotional downpour in the world of words for money.  You have to sell benefits (NOT features!), be succinct, grab attention, connect with YOU the reader, be witty.  There are rules.  So when I’m not feeling in the zone, copywriting is not all that fun (forget that I had a copywriting business for a few years… lol  but writer’s block falls on the just and unjust alike.)

The other difficult thing about writing at work is just the committee factor.  Granted, I hate having to write something that will go out to the masses without anyone offering me any feedback or even a simple proofread.  But on the other hand, there’s nothing more maddening than 3, 4, 5, 6 or more people continually sending you their edits on a piece.  This happens often at my job.  One is tempted to slap oneself silly when such a process not only happens, but sprawls out across email after email (and they use 4 colors!  Red for deletions, blue for additions, orange… see?  Can’t remember.  I am pretty sure this is why change tracking was developed by the fine folks at Microsoft.)

I also find it funny when people argue with you over something subjective.  Do I just nod my head and agree, or do I fight for my word choice?  I try to go the “I disagree, but no matter…” route as much as possible.  These type of things just aren’t worth fighting over.  I just find it amazing that people feel something subjective can be treated as objective.

Anyway, I’m just a person who loves her job but today is a little frustrated by some of the minutiae that make up a day of work… and I’m not even getting into the REAL details! : )

It is probably because it’s day one of a two-day work week… day two being Tuesday.  And days three through seven being Thanksgiving week vacation time!  My brother and sister-in-law are driving down from Minnesota (they literally live on the river in Fargo, ND, but they live in Minnesota).  (Ooh, I think you need a picture for that.  There you go.  Although I don’t know why the two cities look so far away in the map — they are just one city really.)

Anyway, so all I can think of doing right now is cooking, baking, watching our two dogs play together (cousin dogs!), seeing family, going for walks, sitting near the fireplace, watching the Macy’s parade, watching movies, drinking Miller Lite (heh), playing pool, watching Tom and Michael work on some household projects, uhh… that about sums it up.  Oh, and maybe going down to the Plaza for the big Christmas lighting!  Hopefully no shopping though.  I don’t want to be in a store on Black Friday.

Well this has been cathartic… I’ve realized that my writing/work frustrations, at least on this day, are nothing more than a girl who is longing for a family holiday. lol  See, stream-of-conscious writing is useful after all (but not for selling products!).

May you, whoever and wherever you are, having a happy Thanksgiving.  I am coming to think of Thanksgiving as a holiday that is just as spiritual as Christmas and Hanukkah (if not more… since the retail establishment has yet to totally ransack the fourth Thursday in November.  They can have the fourth Friday — bah humbug).  The starting point for all spirituality, from my humble point of view, is realizing that everything we have is a gift… and basking in that gratitude.  If we can celebrate rather than expect things in life, well then even the most simple thing is a cause for real joy.

(Also, who doesn’t like a holiday that has to do with pilgrims, Indians and the early colonial era? : )