The Message translation of Colossians 3:3-4 has been convicting/encouraging me lately, especially this phrase: “Be content with obscurity.” We have an upside down world and it is easy to roll topsy turvy along with it.
But, it’s Sarah Smith of Golders Greene, a character from The Great Divorce who fleshes out humility and the economy of heaven for me.
CS Lewis wrote The Great Divorce as a fictional exploration of Heaven and Hell. In it inhabitants of hell are invited to take a bus ride to heaven and meet a mentor who will encourage them to stay. CS Lewis has written himself into the book as the main character along with his real life mentor, the amazing Scottish writer/theologian George MacDonald. Here they are standing together and watching one of the other mentors process toward them. Sarah Smith of Golders Green will be inviting a bus passenger to go further up and further in.
“I cannot now remember whether she was naked or clothed. If she were naked, then it must have been the almost visible penumbra of her courtesy and joy which produces in my memory the illusion of a great and shining train that followed her across the happy grass. If she were clothed, then the illusion of nakedness is doubtless due to the clarity with which her innermost spirit shone through the clothes. For clothes in that country are not a disguise: the spiritual body lives along each thread and turns them into living organs. A robe or a crown is there as much one of the wearer’s features as a lip or an eye.
But I have forgotten. And only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.
“Is it?…is it?” I whispered to my guide.
“Not at all,” said he. “It’s someone ye’ll never have heard of. Her name on Earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.”
“She seems to be…well, a person of particular importance?”
“Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this coutry and fame on Earth are two quite different things.”…
“And who are all these young men and women on each side?”
“They are her sons and daughters.”
“She must have had a very large family, Sir.”
“Every young man or boy that met her became her son–even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.”
“Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents?”
“No. There are those that steal other people’s children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives.”
…I looked at my Teacher in amazement.
“Yes,” he said. “It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already thee is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.”