Puddleglum is my favorite character from C.S. Lewis' The Silver Chair. You can see his back profile at the top of the page, in a re-colored version of an original illustration by Pauline Baynes. Though he is a pessimist, he is eventually revealed to be the most stalwart and faithful companion in the entire Chronicles of Narnia. This quote paints a good picture of his perspective:
"I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things--trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones."
Puddleglum represents the whimsical, artistic side of this blog, even as it gestures toward issues of faith and trust.
The word Pilgrim describes one of my central theological beliefs. I believe that we are on a journey of faith. Growth in the Christian faith is not best represented by stages or leaps or cycles of life, but by a narrative journey. The Bible is riddled with allusions to the transitory, sojourning aspect of life. The author of 1 Peter describes the life of faith as that of "aliens and exiles." Hebrews 11:13-16 says that those who died in faith "confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed he has prepared a city for them."
As a pilgrim, I am seeking something. Yet the journey is as important as the thing being sought. Pilgrims are those who have taken leave of the normal constraints of society. They go to the edges of the normal to discover the beautiful and holy. As a pilgrim, I want to go to the edges of society, to live as a citizen of a better country. I want to live and work alongside those who are marginalized and who face injustice. I want to encourage the downtrodden, support the weak, help the suffering. I also want to challenge the culture in which I live, even as I listen to it and learn from it.
I enjoy mystery and myth, beauty and brightness. I would rather take a stand for the world of story than suffer under the burden of mere fact. Not that facts are not useful, or reason an integral part of living and knowing. But, as Madeleine L'Engle expresses, "if we limit ourselves to the possible and provable...we render ourselves incapable of change and growth, and that is something that should never end." (The Rock That Is Higher, 100) She continues: "perhaps it is the child within us who is able to recognize the truth of story--the mysterious, the numinous, the unexplainable--and the grown-up within us who accepts these qualities with joy but understands that we also have responsibilities, that a promise is to be kept, homework is to be done, that we owe other people courtesy and consideration, and that we need help to care for our planet because it's the only one we've got." (TRTIH, 100) Perhaps my outlook on life can be more accurately portrayed by another quote from C.S. Lewis, this time from an essay on "Three Ways of Writing for Children," "When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." (On Stories, 34)
I sincerely believe that there is more to life than we can accurately portray with mere facts, more to truth than statistics and analytical thinking can produce. I do not always live like a child, but I deeply desire that way of life. I want to wonder again, to be in awe more often, to wrestle with the dangerous unknown under a midnight sky and somehow end up with both a blessing and a new name. I want to celebrate mystery, all the while seeking to understand. I want to be joyful, knowing full well how grim things truly are. I want to love indiscriminately, and fight injustice passionately. I hope that you'll join me.