Friday, October 28, 2011

"How can you have failed to see that a real pleasure was the last thing you ought to have let him meet?" (Screwtape)

Early this week Mom and I were at Small Grocery Store in the wonderful world of Small Town.  We bought out about a third of their produce department (I exaggerate.  But it does seem like a lot.), where I covetously snagged the very last and only eggplant.  (how dare they run out of eggplant right as the Italians are rolling into town?!  Rude.)  Finally, we wandered over to the aisle of toiletries.  Unfortunately I have a weakness for lovely soap and nicely scented hand sanitizer.  I spotted a little bottle of "Vanilla Cream & Apple Blossoms" *pink* hand sanitizer!  Mom had the proper response (don't you hate it when you're shopping and your shopping buddy does not have the proper response to an indubitably cool item? because there is a proper way to respond to exciting shopping finds, and the words bland, monotone, or non-enthused, do not describe it.).  As a matter of fact, she went beyond a proper response and put two in the cart; one for me, and one for her.  What a pal.  I was excited.  "It's the little things in life that make the world go 'round,"  I contentedly sighed. 

And it is true.  It really is the little things that can be the big things in life.  The little kindnesses that give grace to life.  The little pleasures like a steamy mug of tea or coffee on a blustery day, or driving with the windows open on a beautiful one.  Or a good book that makes you laugh or think.  Or coming downstairs on a fall day smelling the fresh air mixed in with a cinnamon spice candle.  Or a leisurely walk.  Or a good family dinner.  Or music that makes your heart yearn for a deeper Beauty.  Or perfume that makes the day more special.  Or trying to dance like the kids in a Charlie Brown episode.  Or laughing until you cry.  Or a warm home to return to.   Or the homey sound of a gas burner lighting into a flame in a still early morning hour.  Or... you get the picture.  Simple Pleasures, all of them.  Straight from God's hands to ours.  I've been thinking about this, ever since I read from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  Maybe you'd like to read the quotes from it to?
"And now for your blunders.  On your own showing you first of all allowed the patient to read a book he really enjoyed, because he enjoyed it and not in order to make clever remarks about it to his new friends.  In the second place, you allowed him to walk down to the old mill and have tea there- a walk through country he really likes, and taken alone.  In other words, you allowed him two real positive Pleasures.  Where you so ignorant as to not see the danger of this?  The characteristics of Pains and Pleasures is that they are unmistakeably real, and therefore, as far as they go, give the man who feels them a touchstone of reality.  Thus if you had been drying to damn your man by the Romantic method- by making him a kind of Childe Harold or Werther submerged in self-pity for for imaginary distresses- you would try to protect him at all costs from any real pain; because, of course, five minutes' genuine toothache would reveal the romantic sorrows for the nonsense they were and unmask your whole stratagem.  But you were trying to damn your patient by the World, that is by palming off vanity, bustle, irony and expensive tedium as pleasures.  How can you have failed to see that a real pleasure was the last thing you ought to have let him meet?  Didn't you foresee that it would just kill by contrast all the trumpery which you have been so laboriously teaching him to value?  And that sort of pleasure which the book and the walk gave him was the most dangerous of all?

"The deepest longings and impulses of any man are the raw material, the starting-point, which which the Enemy has furnished him.  To get him away from those is therefore always a point gained; even in things indifferent it is always desirable to substitute the standards of the World, or convention, or fashion, for a human's own real likings and dis-likings.  I myself would carry this very far.  I would make it a rule to eradicate from my patient any strong personal taste which is not actually a sin, even if it is something quite trivial such as a fondness for country cricket or collecting stamps or drinking cocoa.  Such things, I grant you, have nothing of virtue in them; but there is a sort of innocence and humility and self-forgetfulness about them which I distrust. The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring two-pence what other people say about it, is by that very fact forearmed against some of our subtlest modes of attack.  You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favour of the 'best' people, the 'right' food, the 'important' books.  I have known a human defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions."

With Thanksgiving coming up, it's a lovely time to count our blessings... so many simple pleasures the Lord blesses us with.  So many blessings.  What a kind God we serve. He has filled His world full of simply beautiful every-day pleasures for us to enjoy.

"All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade.  Or only like foam on the seashore.  Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure.  He makes no secret out of it; at His right hand are 'pleasures forevermore'.  ... He has filled His world full of pleasures.  There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least....  Everything has to be twisted before it's any use to us."  (also from The Screwtape Letters by Lewis)

And now, I'm off on this blustery fall eve to the Chinese mission.  I'm getting the teenage boys combined in my class tonight.  This could be interesting.  But not to worry, I shall put on the most teacherly-air I possess and firmly but kindly convey that they must behave.  At least I'm going to try to, anyway... no guarantees as I have yet to perfect my own version of an 'evil eye' that would freeze a unruly teen into behaving.  Hopefully I will have no need to practice on them.

Blessings and simple pleasures to you all,

1 comment:

Amelia said...

It is always so much fun to go to Smalltown. I so love it there and soooo enjoy the simple little gifts from the Lord like smelling the wonderful fragrance of pink hand sanitizer and such and meeting new wonderful new friends, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord in Smalltown.

Such fun! Little gifts from the Lord! : )

Cheers to a fellow grocery store buddy and daughter!

xxoooo Love, Momio