Why don’t we have Doggish Horses?

Anyone who knows me will know that I seldom miss an oppertunity to ride a horse. I have had quite a number of dates with horses. The last one of them really went bad when the horse, when it was galloping down a hilly slope at about 50 miles an hour,  suddenly decided that it had had enough of me and unloaded me to crash down my right shoulders leaving me with a scary, and in a strange way, a cherished, remembrance of that affair.

Some of my friends at the Camp Allen retreat took to horse riding. For one of them, it was her first ride on a horse. She told me that she constantly was speaking to the horse and patting him. I understand why she had to talk to the horse, because I have done it myself. I talk to the horse and keep patting them when I ride them precisely because a horse is not a dog. This may seem confusing. But let me explain, unlike the dog, the horse seldom comes off as a lovable being. It takes more effort to befriend a horse than a dog.
Whenever I get on a horse, I am often apprehensive that the horse wouldn’t be friendly to me and would want to do something bad to me – like bite off my hand or throw me off when going down a hill. So I, in speaking to the horse and patting him, try to placate him and make him feel loved so that he would be predisposed to be friendly towards me. But with the dog, I don’t have to do all of this, the dog is such a lovable and friendly creature. The moment I get close to him, his eyes brighten, he walks towards me, smells me, touches me with is wet nose, licks me, wags his tail. With the horse, I get a disinterested glance, then a indifferent snort and a dismissive wag of the tail.
Oh, my dates with horses would be a lot better if only the horses had the spirit of the dogs. If only there was a doggish horse, I would devote all of my life to maintaining a stable of horses and be happy and content with my life. But no there is no doggish horse anywhere in the world… Sad.

This got me wondering… I wondered why God did not have this brilliant idea of making a doggish horse? Why didn’t he give the horse the heart of a dog? This got me thinking…

In life, one’s expectations are full of such ‘wish creations’. I have a friend who is a movie lover. I have another friend who is a book lover. I dream of having a friend who is a bookish movie lover. But no that friend isn’t to be. Why does God not give me such friends? After all, if I had such a friend, I wouldn’t need any other friends… oops! Perhaps, God knows this, that is why He did not give me a bookish movie lover for a friend, because I would be ‘dangerously’ too content with him and wouldn’t seek other friendships.
A man has a mother, he has a wife, but then he wishes he had a motherly wife – a wife who embodies the unconditional affirmation of a mother along with the passionate love she has as a wife. No, God hasn’t created that genre. Perhaps, this is because if a husband has such a person, he may be too ‘dangerously’ content in this worldly soul-mate and may not want to pursue and seek solace in his heavenly Soul-mate (God Himself). Likewise, a wife may dream of a fatherly husband but would never get such a man, because if she got hold of such a man, she may be too busy pleasing her earthly fatherly husband not have any energy to expend herself in pleasing her heavenly Father and eternal Husband.
God hasn’t created doggish horses for a good reason. But He has created dogs and horses so that we would be discontented with ‘just dogs’ and ‘just horses’ and would seek to find the non-existent doggish-horses and in the process of ‘seeking’ would ‘find’ our contentment in Him who is the embodiment of all that is real, perfect and beautiful in life. God wants to use life experience to keep from getting ‘dangerously’ contented with the million trivialities of life, so that we would be impelled to find our contentment in Him who is the Father and Husband and Friend and Master and Prophet and King and Priest and inexplicably, the Sinner to walked up the gallows on my stead.
The purpose of all of life from dogs to horses to books to movies is to glorify God – to glorify God by using all of this ‘means of discontentment’ and thereby to draw us to Himself. After all, one day we would indeed have doggish horses, that would be the day when the children play with snakes and lambs would lay beside lions, when we live in the new Heavens where God is at the centre and would be supremely glorified.

Crushing the Accursed Loneliness

Leaving the warm room, sparkling wine and lively chatter
I walk into the dead cold of the night.
Wanting to feel the soul, wanting to feel the intensity, I embrace loneliness
An accursed loneliness, even the gods despair of
A loneliness that hates loneliness
A loneliness that seeks a friend.
Not just a friend, but an intense Friend who touches the soul.
I peer into the mysterious heaviness about the dark woods
I wait for a friend to emerge. Not a twig moved.
I look up at the tree, an enormous being, so full of life.
Implore Him to talk to me.
He is silent as the dead dark night.
I walk back to my room, alone, through the dense night
Lo, was the Lover, the Groom waiting for His wayward Bride.
A Bride that sought, to no avail, in the frivolous and the mysterious
An eternal intensity to nourish her soul.
An intensity that is imbibed, only by Him who
Transcends space-time, and touches the soul.
That touches the soul, as the Bride is impregnated with the Spirit of the Groom
As He crushes with the heel of His feet, the accursed loneliness of being.

A weekend with ‘C.S.Lewis and Friends’

At the start of last week, I updated my facebook status to say ‘…a weekend with C.S. Lewis and Friends’. Now, again, as I title my blog ‘A weekend with C.S. Lewis and Friends’, I realize that over the course of last weekend, my understanding of the meaning of the word ‘friend’ has grown deeper. The profound experiences of life are the ones that help us understand the deeper meaning of words which we often blithely use. For example, a guy will not really understand the meaning of ‘falling’ in love unless he has ‘fallen’ in love with a girl. It is when a loved one dies that one gets to understand the meaning of the word ‘death’. Over the course of the weekend at Camp Allen with the singles Fusion Fellowship of SJD, Andrew Lazo’s special emphasis on friendship during his exposition of C.S. Lewis’ “Four Loves” was, I think, one such experience that helped me have a renewed and a deeper understanding of the word ‘Friendship’. In fact, today, when I was typing an email to one of my ‘friends’, I stopped for a moment to ask myself if my email was an ‘ordinate’ response to the ‘friendship’ we shared. 

Having been inspired to think about love over the course of this week, I realize that the love that really intrigues me is ‘Need Love’. Need love is the love that people have because the love satisfies a need of theirs. When Shakesphere said ‘love loves love’, I think he was essentially talking about need love. It is a love where love just ‘needs’ the feeling of love. This love does not necessarily, selflessly, seek a person to love. Some men idealize this kind of need love, some demonize it. But I think that a man who neither idealized nor demonizes but understands need love for what it is, will be a good lover.
Without this need love, a man and a woman may never risk passionately falling in love with each other. The ‘first love’ (which is 7 parts need love, 2 parts gift love, 1 part appreciative love) is that spark that causes a man and a woman to fall in love. But this ‘need’ soaked ‘first love’ which causes the couple to fall in love, dies soon. Then out of the ashes of this ‘love death’, resurrects Agape (selfless love). Need love is the ‘severe mercy’ of God that helps man attain higher forms of selfless love. As Lewis often says, ‘the higher does not stand without the lower’. No love reaches its noble selfless supremacy which has not started off as a need love in some form.
Even as man approaches God, it is need love that propels him to God. If a man were to think that his love for God is not propelled by his need for God but by of his supreme selfless love for God, he is probably deceiving himself as the Pharisee was deceiving himself at the altar. Whereas, the tax collector confesses his ‘need’ for God’s mercy and was loved by God. Though need love is good to a certain extent, need love lasts only as long as the need lasts, so it is not supremely good. But still, God does allow us to start off with need love, then He uses the tricks of nature (the delicate balance of providing contentment and discontentment) to nudge us away from need love towards the Agape love. Thus work’s God’s severe mercy. The fallen man, to attempt to imitate Agape, has to go through the humility of a helpless, and may be even hopeless, ‘need love’. Any man who tries to idealize need love or demonize it, is bound to remain an inane lover all his life.
On a different note, I realize that there was something about the weekend at Camp Allen which rejuvenated my creative energies. I got to write loads for my journal, which was not surprising. But what really surprised me was that, the sporadic, reluctant and mediocre poet that I am, I managed to pen two poems over the weekend. Looking back, I wonder what it was about the Camp Allen retreat that fostered creativity.
I think the answer is that in Camp Allen, one gets to enjoy the natural ‘real pleasures of life’. There was no television neither did I get to browse the virtual world. I did not write in anyone’s walls either. I lived with real people in the real world. I looked at the grey skies, walked the brown earth, breathed into the cold wet air, felt the chilling drizzle, touched the grazing horses, watched the embers in the camp fire die down into the midnight listening to Andrew’s narrations of C.S. Lewis writings, after midnight wandered about the misty nights, fellowshipped with those who loved the Lord and above all, worshiped God.
I think all of these experiences fall under the category of what C.S. Lewis calls, the ‘real pleasures’ of life. In ‘Screw Tape Letters’, the (Devil) uncle instructs Wormwood (the trainee devil) to keep his target, the Christian man, busy with the frivolous pleasures of life, away from the heavier ‘real pleasures’. He says that this nudging of the Christian man away, from the ‘real pleasures’ of life would keep the Christian away from that which is ‘real’ in life and consequently away from the ‘real’ God as well. Looking back, I am not surprised that the dose of the natural ‘real pleasures’ of life revived in me a fecundity, the source of which is the ‘real’ God.
Before I started off for the retreat, a Hindu colleague asked me what the seminar on the book was about. I had read “Four Loves” earlier, I remembered some philosophic ideas from the book and explained to him what the book was about, but it made little existential sense to him. My words were perhaps a little too removed from the reality of how stuff happens in life. But during the seminar, Andrew Lazo’s real life ‘blood-letting’ changed that. Nothing speaks louder than a man speaking from the depth of his pain.  I think I got an existential understanding of the meaning of the words ‘Storge’, ‘Philia’, ‘Eros’ and ‘Agape’. Perhaps, next time when I have to talk to someone about “Four Loves”, I shall hopefully do C.S. Lewis proud.

The Dance of the Trees

The ipod played ‘That kind of Love’

I look out of the window at the green woods

Through the gleamy drizzle in the sunny outside

A moment of transcendence

 

It was the dance of the trees swaying in the breeze.

The grace of the lean branches and the leaner leaves

Drew me deeper into the timeless world.

My shoulders slanted, legs crossed, I pen this

 

Why should the rain be beautiful?

Why should green be green?

Why should the trees dance?

Why should I be enthralled into a trance?

 

I wondered what it was all about.
Or may be, ‘who’ was it all about?

Tempted as I was to say ‘me’, but I couldn’t get to say it

I was still in trance experiencing a beautiful new reality.

No. It was all about Him who cannot be in a trance
For He pervades all reality.

The drizzling rain, dancing tree, the perky leaves

And I who ‘wonder’ what it is all about

In the very act of transcended wonderment
I lay down the crown on behalf of the rain, tree and leaves

At the feet of the timeless One of whom
This transcendence and beauty is all about.