‘perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts and paving-stones along the weary road that others have tramped before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow whcih turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us.’
It was one of those long drives with a good friend that always lead to good conversations. Short car rides don’t give enough time to get to the really good parts sometimes. Also, it was with Mary Beth, who is extraordinarily insightful, intuitive, and instinctively knows the deeper things in a work of literature that I have to be told.
Brideshead Revisited happens to be one of her favorite novels, and as soon as I read it it became mine too. Of course, Mary Beth gave me the heart and soul of each character matter of factly, as though everyone of course understands these things. “I am Charles,” she said. [Disclaimer: Mary Beth loves life and her husband and baby girl. She just happens to be a philosopher. :)] “Sometimes I think if I didn’t have the Lord, the reminder that there is a purpose to life beyond what I can see now, I think suicide would be tempting. Life would be so pointless.”
And I: “But… it’s so beautiful. Life is so beautiful. There is so much to live for.”
Mary Beth. She smiled, of course. “Life is hard and depressing and bleak too often. I’m like Charles, who needed Sebastian to teach him about beauty.”
And I: “What. I’m Sebastian.”
She laughed. “Oh yes. You’re my Sebastian.”
And I, still shocked: “I am Sebastian. He loves things because they’re beautiful.” Dawning astonishment. “He loves his faith because it’s beautiful. Because God is beautiful, and He makes life beautiful, and so the world is beautiful, even if it’s hard. That’s what I was going to say to you.”
Mary Beth laughs at me again.
It’s a long drive. I watch the rain fall on gloomy Michigan winter trees. “I’m a spoiled, depressed alcoholic asthete who dies in a monastery.”
Then Mary Beth reminds me why Waugh wrote his beautiful, true novel, and I remind myself to reacquaint myself with C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton immediately. They were lovers of the good, true, and beautiful, and they wrote about faith and life with the humility and love only one who knows the Lord very well could.
That is the danger, I must confess. To love things because they are beautiful. That is why I was an English major. It’s why I love to cook, to shop, to stand in Anthropologie. Even, if I am not careful, it is why I love to sing, to meditate on the Lord. Beauty is a dangerous God.
Some people, like Lewis and Chesterton, knew that danger, and they lived with it. They loved beauty, and they loved the Lord first, with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind. They rejoiced because their names were written in heaven. I must learn from them, as Waugh would have me do, and dare to run into the dangerous, beautiful ocean of Grace, forgetting all these other things.
There is so much to live for, and it is beautiful. But it is not here- no, my life is hidden with Christ in God, and He is all my satisfaction.