May 5, 2005

A Prettyish Sort of Wilderness


Here is a quote from C. S. Lewis' marvelous, brilliant book The Four Loves, which, by the way, ought to be required reading for humanity. :-) I found this allegory to be deep and meaningful on many levels.

Virtual M&M's as always!

"To say this is not to belittle the natural loves but to indicate where their real glory lies. It is no disparagement to a garden to say that it will not fence and weed itself, not prune it's own fruit trees, nor roll and cut its own lawns. A garden is a good thing but that is not the sort of goodness it has. It will remain a garden, as distinct from a wilderness, only if someone does all these things to it. Its real glory is of quite a different kind. The very fact that it needs constant weeding and pruning bears witness to that glory. It teems with life. It glows with colour and smells like heaven and puts forward at every hour of a summer day beauties which man could never have created and could not even, on his own resources, have imagined. If you want to see the difference between its contribution and the gardener's, put the commonest week it grows side by side with his hoes, rakes, shears, and packet of weed killer; you have put beauty, energy and fecundity beside dead, sterile things. Just so, our "decency and common sense" show grey and deathlike beside the geniality of love. And when the garden is in its full glory the gardener's contributions to that glory would still have been in a sense paltry compared with those of nature. Without life springing from the earth, without rain, light and heat descending from the sky, he could do nothing. When he has done all, he has merely encouraged here and discouraged there, powers and beauties that have a different source. But his share, though small, is indispensable and laborious. When God planted a garden he set a man over it and set the man under Himself. When He planted the garden of our nature and caused the flowering, fruiting loves to grow there, he set our will to "dress" them. Compared with them it is dry and cold. And unless His grace comes down, like the rain and sunshine, we shall use this tool to to little purpose. But its laborious-- and largely negative-- services are indispensable. If they were needed when the garden was still Paradisal, how much more now when the soil has gone sour and the worst weeds seem to thrive on it best? But heaven forbid we should work in the spirit of prigs and Stoics. While we hack and prune we know very well that what we are hacking and pruning is big with a splendour and vitality which our rational will could never itself have supplied. To liberate that splendour, to let it become fully what it is trying to be, to have tall trees instead of scrubby tangles, and sweet apples instead of crabs, is part of our purpose"


Lynn Bruce said...

I second the motion that everyone should read this book, but it's an especially useful book for those in their mid to late teen years, when one first becomes prone to confusing one type of love for another. For that reason, it's included in the high school years of Ambleside Online... which is why FaSoLaLa found herself reading it.

FaSoLaLa, dearest... this quote pretty neatly sums up how I view the effort of parenting. Think about that, but do try not to have nightmares of The Queen Mother wielding pruning shears in your general direction. LOL!

And one last thing -- naturally, I know the source of your post title, but I will, as always, give the others a chance to exhibit. (Seconds on the virtual M&M's for that one!)

coffeemamma said...

Lady Catherine to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice! I just finished reading that one yet again, on my tour through Austen's books (am currently 1/4 of the way through Emma). But instead of M&M's, could I have that in Canadian Smarties?

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Smarties are available in the USA, too. For some reason, they are often found in the bulk section of health food stores. That's always puzzled me.

And Lady C. to Elizabeth B., yes. I recognized that quote and even felt my face recomposing itself into a Lady C. type of sneer as I recalled when and where she said it.

j kelley said...

hey--thanks for the comment.
the three-line-per-stanza stuff
is quite the departure from my normal style...but it is purposefully fragmented and paints a lot of different pictures.
thanks for the criticism, though.

Thermodude said...

That is definitly a C.S.Lewis quote. I shall have to read it. One can always tell if it CSLewis or not. He has a certain feel in the way he writes. Hey Beehive family, ya'll need to come fisit us up here. We have horses and cows now. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! I still dislike country music to the fullest. Monkeys forever.

beatrice said...

YES!!!! Rock on!!! No more country music!!

fa-so-la-la said...

Bluegrass forever!

Anonymous said...

Katwoman again. Speaking of quotes, ithilienprincess has found a word that VERY accurately describes her. Cinophiliac. It means one who constantly quotes movies. Quite appropriate, to my way of thinking. (and to yours too I'm sure, knowing what sort of girl she is:-)

Thermodude said...

Bluegrass and Monkeys forever, right????
I like to quote movies too ya know. Who is Katwoman?

'Ask me why Bob. Ok, why? Why what? be specific Bob. Why are you unhappy? Your customers make me unhappy. What, you've gotten complaints. Complaints, I can handle.'

See, see, I could go on.