Pruning Shears

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love - a scholar's parrot may talk Greek -
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

I've been stuck on this poem by C.S. Lewis for a while - ever since I re-read Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, in fact, since Miller quotes its first two stanzas. As much as I love those, it's really the second half that gets me.

"I see the chasm..."

We are all too wont to organize our lives, tweaking this and turning that, until we believe that we have found perfection. Whatever emptiness or shadow we may contain is hidden, usually papered over behind the cheerful wallpaper of determined self-ignorance. It is only when our eyes are opened, whether by a chance observation of another person or by a circumstance that obliterates our neat piles of Lincoln logs, that we begin to see all that we thought fit to exclude from view.

"And now the bridge is breaking."

What do we do when the things that spanned those gaps - not all of them mere wallpaper, some of them bridges that crossed and recrossed like stitches holding together the edges of a ragged wound - begin to collapse around us?

There is a time and a season... All dead things in our lives, whether good or bad, must be pruned away if we are to make room for the new growth. It hurts, God, does it ever, but if we do not submit ourselves to the pain, we stunt our opportunities and inhibit forward motion. Which is not to say that there are not times also to re-build what has been destroyed, but one can only hope to have the wisdom to know the difference at the moment of decision and perhaps there shall be vindication in time.

"Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
...Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice."

No comments:

Post a Comment