“Before your face questions die away”

“Before your face questions die away”

If you need a good book to read (not least in light of our curious times), I recommend C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold. It’s a risky little book on many fronts. Lewis offers a multi-layered invitation that, among other things, bids us to see the unseen, to embrace true love, and to understand the dreaded enemy is not “out there.” If you dare, the enemy may be nearer than you realize, nearer than you care to admit—nearer, perhaps, than you have led others to believe. The monster may, in fact, be within.

In this vein, Lewis’ book is a call to self-reflection and self-understanding. Could it be the case, as Lewis begs us to consider, that much of what we believe about ourselves is not exactly true? Is it possible that, despite being self-confessed noble warriors of “truth” and “love,” we are actually far from the bastion of truth that we think we are? Our heroism, perhaps, may very well prove to be little more than a selfish ruse–a mask–that, sadly, does nothing more than allow us to devour and dominate others to the point of their own ruin. We humans really do lust for such deceitful acclaim and overt power (for the benefit of others, we tell ourselves). And yet, seldom do we embrace the obscurity required for love. How could we, given that our hands tightly grip our thrones?

In the end, Lewis calls us to conversion, that is, to God, who is the Answer to all of our questions, hatred, fears, and sins. As Lewis himself knew personally, the Answer is the God of love—revealed to us in Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus became a servant to Samaritans, lepers, centurions, Jews, Gentiles, prostitutes, tax collectors, zealots/terrorists—in other words, to people like you and me. The Jesus Way bids us to lose our own lives so that we can find them again. The Way calls us to love others deeply, even as we are loved deeply by the God of love.

Masterfully, Lewis invites us to the Way. Entering that story requires complete honesty and total transparency. It requires us to unmask ourselves and behold our real face. This is extremely risky and certainly painful. We ought to do it anyway. We may end up finding what we’ve always yearned for…

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“I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” …

“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” (C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces)

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