Love and chocolate
A widow's thoughts after two years
I was doing OK in widowhood till I started looking over the fence. I don't say I was a merry widow but I'd been accentuating the positive-no need to phone when plans suddenly change, no need to fuss with the table settings at suppertime. Plus all the unlocked potential of "undivided loyalty" touted by the celibate apostle in 1 Corinthians 7. And I still think that was a biblical attitude, and I'm still fighting to stay there.
Who knows when or how discontentment gains a foothold, or crosses the line, that little thought that would be god? Like the fist-sized cloud of Elijah atop Mt. Carmel, just turn around and it's swallowed up the sky. Yesterday you had contentment. Today ...
Did the sentries at the door of my heart sleep when Nan and I talked that time, and the pot was stirred, and the smallest whisper said to my soul, "You will have nothing good ever again"? Was there something artificial, something forced, in my equanimity after all? (You can always gain peace with denial, but it will pop out all over the place.)
"Lord, what can you give me since my husband is dead?" I asked, and even as I mouthed the words I was struck by the semantic similarity to Abraham's statement, "Lord, what can you give me since I have no son?"
Our Bible-discreetly and with courtesy-passes over quickly these parched years of the patriarch, and in the judgment of Christ's charity Abraham is named, in Hebrews 11, as a paragon of faith-side by side with Samson. Go figure.
But I will opine-if there is any continuity in humanity between the spirit of a nomadic male of the 2nd millennium B.C. and that of a suburban female born in the 2nd millennium A.D.-that there was considerable undulation in that virtue (I give you Genesis 16 in evidence); and I will further opine the cause:
What is not seen is hard to imagine. What cannot be caught with rod and reel we are loath to call fish. Knowing only earthly joy, we are asked to prefer-to stake our claim on!-joys that "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor the imagination of man conceived."
Hard to imagine that the things I long for most-things tactile, and known, and the music already written and that conjures doorways into bliss-are only adumbrations, the shadows on the cave wall. Hard to sell myself on the reputed silliness of desiring signposts; I would be content with the signposts, Lord!
In his better moments father Abraham was borne by a vision of the "city with foundations whose architect is God." Just what did he see that kept him in pilgrimage?
The debt I owe to C. S. Lewis is just here: To one raised on the most colorless fare regarding heaven, he paints pictures more befitting of the biblical evidences of a textured "new heaven and earth." The end of the wardrobe drama is just the beginning of Narnian tales, avers the professor, and Lewis makes good on it in the subsequent titles, and lets me browse among the possibilities. And by sheer weight of attention given it, it is that world beyond the wardrobe that teems and pulsates, while dirty, noisy London looks shrunk and strangely dim.
I do not fault the preachers on this. You don't preach in the cracks, I suppose. Nor do you proclaim "thus saith the Lord" about the precise manner in which the Twelve will rule on twelve thrones henceforth to judge the tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28), nor how you and I will reign along with Christ (Revelation 3:21) in lands as yet uncharted. But what you can do is you can tell stories! And so the Lord, in his mercy, gave some to be storytellers-of the Golden Age of Kings Peter and Susan, and adventures in Narnia and Calormen and the lands between. This is about as helpful as it gets for me in my present state.
Though the preacher who came closest put it this way: There was a little boy who asked his father, "Daddy, is love better than chocolate?"
And here I shut my mouth and rest content. I had spoken in ignorance, of things I'm not equipped to judge, things beyond my ken, and too wonderful for me. I had confused categories, hadn't I? The righteous will live by faith, I reaffirm, a faith that when the time comes, the One who made the creation I love and yearn to touch will know how to make a better and a lasting one.