“So let’s wash out all the wish business. It never helped anyone to solve any problem yet.” -C.S. Lewis, in a letter to Sheldon Vanauken
We smiled as Laura skipped rocks, sending them gently across the smooth surface of the water. That’s what I should have done with my cares. I could have tossed them away from me, to watch them bounce, or comically land kerplunk.
We were walking along the lakeside, managing the affairs of the world, Laura, Annie, Rachel and I, as only young women can do, not concerned with the movement of armies or affairs of state, but with pursuits of even more magnitude— what would happen to us, to our friends, to those we loved. We had it all nearly sorted out, until it occurred to us, watching the white billows of the sailboats fill and spill in the distance, that we had as little control over the future as we did over the west-northwest wind, whipping around us.
I shivered and said, “I wish I could be old for just a few minutes, to look back on what happened, to know a few things ahead of time.”
“No,” Rachel said decidedly. “Not me.”
I looked at Annie, like Emma looking to Mrs. Weston, like a classic little sister. She said nothing, and her face was kindly, but I knew it was badly spoken. So often, in those little hasty side comments, I learn my weakness. Faithless? Who, me?
Rachel was right. I can imagine many good reasons now why a glimpse into the future would be a bad idea. (Just read Macbeth, right?!) But more than this, I know God wants– delights in– whole trust, happy trust. Besides, as a wise man once said: you have to let the Storyteller tell the story in the way He wants to tell it. This life is not about collecting data, it’s about light coming to darkness in a sequence of events, in the very point of need. When Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome walked to the tomb early Easter morning, they, too, were full of cares and questions. Who will roll away the stone for us, so that we might care for the horribly dead body of our friend? They arrive to find an angel, who has not only rolled back the stone, but shaken the earth around it, and the Beloved Body has walked away, risen indeed. Had the women known exactly what was going to happen, they would not have fretted over the stone’s removal, and yet the astounding goodness of the good-news and humorous irony of our earthiness and frailty in the face of Almighty God would not have been seen. The story would not have been as good. And people who ask stupid questions would not know what good company they are in!
I don’t want to be a young woman wishing she were an old woman already. I don’t want to be scared of living. But it is comforting to remember that in most good stories the characters come to a point of feeling that way, frightened to go on, doubtful the end could be good.
“I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?” Sam asked in The Two Towers. “I wonder,'” said Frodo. “But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.”
I came across the Lewis quote at the top the other day, and it sent me into a manic spree to find these of his below. I’m working on letting the waves come, on losing sight of the shore, on letting the Storyteller tell His own story, for goodness sake, always remembering, in both joy and sorrow, that the best is yet to come.
And how could we endure to live and let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back- if we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation and memory and that these are that day? – from Out of the Silent Planet
This is a very great adventure, and no danger seems to me so great as that of knowing… I left a mystery behind me through fear. – from the Voyage on the Dawn Treader
To reject the wave… to say to Him, ‘Not thus, but thus’— to put in our own power what times should roll towards us… That would have been cold love and feeble trust. And out of it how could we ever have climbed back into love and trust again? – from Perelandra
He raised his head and roared, ‘Now it is time!”…. And as he spoke he no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. – from The Last Battle