Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

Helps along the way
March 27, 2011, 11:22 am
Filed under: Devotional | Tags: , ,

For once, I have not been preaching this weekend, so I will offer a short meditation on my Lenten them of “pilgrimage”, with reference (of course) to The Land of Far-Beyond.

Although the travellers meet many difficulties and dangers along the way, and are often discouraged or distracted, they are also helped and encouraged at many points.

On their first night, they stay at Mr Kindly’s cottage. It is true that Mr Scornful turns up his nose at the simple fare  on offer, and tries to get lodging with the neighbour, Mr Wealthy, only to find that the welcome there is non-existent. “Better to have simple fare in a kindly house than to seek better things in a place where there is no welcome,” he learns- a lesson that could well come from the Book of Proverbs.

A day’s journey further they reach the Guide’s cottage, from which they get their first glimpse of the City they are seeking, and after another day, when lost in the marsh of Deceit they are rescued by Mr Straight, and the stepping-stones of Truth. Mercy and Pity help them to escape the dungeons of Giant Cruelty, and they spend further time in the House of Peace.

Yes, the allegory is rather obvious to us, but this is a children’s book, and it was not at all obvious to me at the age of seven. What Enid Blyton is concerned to show is that however great the difficulties we face in the pilgrimage of life, there will always be help and hope for us if we seek it. We are never alone on our journey, which is (we can now say) a journey of self-knowledge, but not of self-reliance.

At one level, we are making a “moral” journey, although we should not imagine that we acquire the moral resources we need simply by our own efforts. The virtues are always “gifts”, which we receive from above. They are not natural in the sense of belonging necessarily to our nature, although they are, we may say, “co-natural” to us- in that they complete our nature as it should be, in the image of God, and lack of them leaves us wounded and weakened.

There are two sides to all this. On the one hand, we come to recognise our imperfection when we receive kindliness, pity, mercy and so on from others. We are put to shame by the examples, not just of the saints, but of many faithful folk we meet daily. On the other hand, we must recognise that by imitating and practising these virtues ourselves, we are helping others to find the same inspiration we have found. It is by being Christ-like ourselves that we bring Christ to the world, and not simply by talking about him.

How far we have to go!

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