Friday, 12 May 2017

Beyond the Grey Havens... by John Fitzgerald

(Excerpted from John Fitzgerald's essay at Albion Awakening)

And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance in the air  and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

... This luminous vision, I believe, is the intended destiny of each and every one of us, articulating, in its primal beauty and simplicity, the deepest longing of the human heart. It points us to the root and source of our being, which ultimately lies beyond the parameters of this world. In his essay, The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis says that we all have a desire for a 'far off country' like an inconsolable inner pang - 'a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience...'

The Deceiver, however, wishes us to believe that our deepest desires can be satisfied here in this world. He offers us a range of seductive options that promise everything but deliver nothing, leading only to the dusty corridors and empty lumber rooms of his barren, mechanistic universe.

We live and move and have our being in this world. We are meant to enjoy it and do good in it, but it should never be mistaken for our abiding home. It can never fully satisfy...

Tolkien was fully grounded in the flesh and blood reality of this world, while at the same time keeping his gaze fixed on the deeper, wider, truer reality beyond the Grey Havens. As very young men, before the First World War, Tolkien and his friends believed that they had been 'granted some spark of fire ... that was destined to kindle a new light, or, what is the same thing, rekindle an old light in the world.' (Tolkien, Letters no. 5). Tolkien, through his writings, certainly succeeded in this mission.

It is for ourselves, as apostles and evangelists of a new spiritual Christianity in this land, to build on his (and Lewis's) work of imaginative engagement. The way to do this, in my view, is to speak directly to the human heart, the place where this deepest longing sits. This comes before anything else - dogma, ideology, and even our frustration with the societal decay and dissolution of values gathering pace around us.

No matter how corrupted, compromised or confused a person has become, that deepest desire - that primal beauty and simplicity - is always there, waiting for a look, a word or a gesture to kindle it into life, blaze forth and shock the world.

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