Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mere mortals

I was sitting at Arby's not too long ago and noticing all the kinds of different people one might see at an Arby's, munching on their Arby-Qs or curly fries or whatnot. That's when a quote came to mind, by God's grace:

You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, 1949)
(...No, that whole quote was not on the tip of my tongue in an Arby's.) C.S. Lewis also has a marvelous image portrayed in The Great Divorce, of a woman in Heaven who is a truly great heavenly being; her presence can't be missed, and is beautiful to behold. From what I remember, she was a no-name on earth. But here, her being is unmistakable, because on earth, she loved well.

So as I looked around the Arby's, at the woman who took my change and other people who I might mentally dismiss--and admittedly, in my sin, readily shelve into categories based on looks or mental ability or even sinfulness (on my bad days, I'm sure I've landed on someone else's "sinful" shelf)--I might be encountering a heavenly celebrity. Amazing, isn't it?

Today I was reading a story with the kids. It was based on that classic metaphor of a caterpillar morphing, at long last, into a butterfly. And now, I have an image to attach to my meandering thoughts. What if some of the "caterpillars" we encounter in this world are just dormant heavenly butterflies, who will astound us with their true beauty when at last it's revealed? It's not unlike that Jack Black movie, Shallow Hal, when women appear outwardly as beautiful (...or as ugly) as they are inwardly. Wouldn't our world be a little easier if we could judge books by their covers? I wonder if mine would really look as good as  I sometimesmake it out to be.

But alas...the Great Ruse of the Curse prevails: The price tags here will always be switched--the cheap things appear invaluable, and too often I find myself passing up the priceless.

Tonight, I'm sitting in Starbucks, looking around and wondering how God sees these people around me complete with their eternal destinies, sitting right here sipping their grande chais. These thoughts have already made me linger a little longer in conversation, or slip in an extra grin toward someone.

After all, who knows?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent, Janel -

Thanks for the perspective check.