This poem is part of the series I named The Difficult Years, of which there were more than a few. Much of this revolves around two major life issues: first my lack of the character qualities and maturity that would allow for a relationship, as interdependant as marriage, to be a healthy one. Second, my tendancy to idolatry, by which I mean bowing down to my need for security, worth and approval by refusing to be the person I was created to be. It took a long time for me to recognize that fact.
All my writing about that time was a reflection of where I was at and may not be a picture of the reality. Much as I hate the term, my truth, this is how it seemed to me.
Elijah’s Cloud I found a blade of grass grown through the concrete path. You could crush it if you wanted. Thus, I have made a niche within your heart. Tenuous? Not really. The soil is thin there, gravelly and porous. Water seeps through quickly. Deep rooted, I am like the native grass that survives the lengthy drought, falls fell winds and winters frigid fingers: Withered brown and stiff. My source secure, I will be green again with April’s rain.
If this poem is about anything other than poetic devices, it is found in the solidity of the last two lines, my source secure… And that is what my whole journey has been about, finding that source of life that allowed me to weather the uncontrollable vicissitudes of life.
Those were challenging but ultimately the most rewarding years. If you have read the Narnia series, and I hope you have, I’m sure you will remember Eustace from the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it.” Such a delicious line.
There is a time when the unpleasant Eustace, through a series of events, awakes one day to find he has become a dragon, the logical consequence of his choices. Which, at first, has its upside – he can now exercise more power than he has ever known, but he soon enough experiences the downside and wants to be human again. He tries and tries and tries to rid himself of his dragon skin and finds himself powerless to escape – himself. And then Lewis paints this incredible picture in Chapter Seven.
“Then the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”
Here’s an excerpt if you don’t have a copy nearby.
And that is my story too, like Eustace I needed the lion to undress me. And I’ll stop with another favorite quote, this from the Velveteen Rabbit.
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
Be blessed my friends and brave in these strange days.