Sunday, September 14, 2008

Into the Commons

C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Four Loves, describes the birth of friendship as sounding something like this, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one." When we find a common way of thinking, a common emphasis for our lives, Lewis says the love of friendship, or phileo, blossoms. Lewis goes on to write, "Lovers seek for privacy. Friends find this solitude about them, this barrier between them and the herd, whether they want it or not." To enter the commons with a friend necessitates a separation from the rest of society not for the sake of separation, but in order to seek out the shared thought. Often, when I'm with my writer friends (the Modern Myth Makers), one of us will stop the conversation and say something like, "I wonder what people would think if they heard us discussing the after effects of a ninja raid on Greenwich Village in the early 1930s."As writers of fiction, we see things differently from the rest of the herd, and our common thoughts make us friends.

If I lived in Sydney, Australia, I think I would be friends with singer/songwriter Brooke Fraser. My brother, Dave (The We Love You Project), gave me a copy of her CD, "Albertine," two weeks ago, and I had Lewis's classic friend reaction of "What? You Too?" Her lyrics speak my heart's cries better than anything I could write about them. Sometimes it takes someone else speaking what we dare not for us to have the courage to admit, "Yeah, that's me." Here is a glimpse of my journey into the commons with Brooke.

It's getting tougher to be single with every passing day. I've been waiting 26 years for the love of the right man, for eros, and I'll keep waiting. It's a firm choice. But being settled in a choice, even one between you and the God of all flesh, doesn't make the wait painless. Some days, my mind and heart and body all start screaming at once. I found a friend in Brooke's song, "Love where is your fire?" In it, she sings, "I've been sitting here smoking away / Making signals with sticks and odd ends and bits, but still there's no sign of a flame / Impostors have been passing, offering a good-feeling glow / But I'm holding out for what you are about - an inferno that burns to the bone / Some urge me to be temperate, but lukewarm will never do." I've struggled with discouragement in this area over the last few months. It seems that everywhere I look, the world urges me to temper my hopes, to either cave to my desire or kill it. Neither is an option. Brooke's song encourages me to admit that yes, I burn, but I'm going to use that longing to somehow glorify the One who put this fire in me in the first place. My will rests in God's Will and I will not moderate that choice.

Which brings me to my next favorite song on Brooke's album, "Faithful." Dave told me this was his theme song right now, but he'll have to wait in line. It's been my theme for my whole life, I just didn't have the right set of words until now. The song is about a different kind of longing than a desire for eros. "Faithful" is about a spirit-longing for union with the Father of the universe. It is about having faith that God is, "and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). The chorus says the hardest words I have ever had to tell God, "When I can't feel you, I have learned to reach out just the same / When I can't hear you, I know you still hear every word I pray / And I want you more than I want to live another day / And as I wait for you maybe I'm made more faithful." I have to live this song every day. I have always in a way dared Jesus to step into my life in a tangible way, to prove he loves me by finding me where I'm hiding and giving me a huge hug. But I have reached a point where even when it feels like I'm only embracing air, I will embrace air anyway, because that is all I can do. He is God, I want Him, and I remind myself that He chose me first. But the desire seems like all I have.

My new friend, Brooke, also brings me back to the truth that all these unfulfilled desires are in fact my surest hope. In "The C.S. Lewis Song," Brooke quotes my favorite author (another thing we seem to have in common): "If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy, I can only conclude that I was not made for here / If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary, then of course, I'll feel nude when to where I'm destined I'm compared /... I will sigh and with all creation grown as I wait for hope to come for me." This idea that unfulfilled longings somehow hint at the existence and nature of heaven is a strong theme in the writings of Lewis. And this beautiful reminder from Brooke gives me reason to hold on to my desires. I must make another choice then. I must choose to long for life as it should be, while all the time recognizing my desires can never come to fulfillment in this broken world, nor should they.

What I would really love now that I have broken this vessel and poured out my deep soul, is that someone would read this and respond, "What? You too?" We can walk the commons together. But if you don't feel that right now, don't worry. We can still be friends based on other thoughts, like finding ninjas in Greenwich Villiage. :)


Hazel Langrall said...

you too?! :) you are way more articulate than i, christy. all i can say is YES and i agree. i feel the same things and deal w/ the same junk. the world is calling me to settle these days in so many ways and i'm struggling against it and holding onto hope (i like the verse that says that "abraham, against all hope, in hope believed" - hebrews 11, i think). the connection that you made about our unfulfillable desires and longings being evidence of the heaven we are told we belong to is so true, and quite encouraging when i feel like just giving in already. i'm so glad to be your friend, and i will wait here in the commons w/ you. :)

haricot vert said...

you are a better, stronger person than i. and i respect you very much because of that. truly truly truly.