Thursday, July 07, 2016

Literary links: Hope

ComeAwayWithMe Blog writes about a visit to Wells Cathedral, where Elizabeth Goudge grew up.

you might know it for being the background for several films and TV shows...including Galavant, Dr Who, Wolf's hall, the Huntsman and a film that I've actually watched (because it is a scifi comedy): the pub crawling film World's End (!)

The story is semi-autobiographical in that it based on a true story of Edgar’s attempt at a crawl ’round Wells in his late teens.

.... LINK

CAWMblog, has several other posts on Goudge, including this one about Miss Montague (a minor but memorial character in the Dean's watch), a girl who was crippled in an accident, and realizes she will never marry and have a family.

So she took a vow to love. Millions before her had taken the same simple vow but she was different from the majority because she kept her vow, kept it even after she had discovered the cost of simplicity.
Until now she had only read her Bible as a pious exercise, but now she read it as an engineer reads a blueprint and a traveler a map, unemotionally because she was not emotional, but with a profound concentration because her life depended on it.
Bit by bit over a period of years that seemed to her long, she began to get all her scaffolding into place. She saw that all her powers, even those which had seemed to mitigate against love, such as her shrewdness which had always been quick to see the faults of others, her ambition and self-will, could by a change of direction be bound over in service to the one overmastering purpose. She saw that she must turn from herself, and began to see something of the discipline that that entailed, and found too as she struggled that no one and nothing by themselves seemed to have the power to entirely hold her when she turned to them.
Compare and contrast to modern films "me over you", where the guy selfishly decides if he can't have fun he'd rather die, instead of using his gifts of the intellect to help make things worse, he even decides to makes his girlfriend a murderer to get his own way.

Similarly, although I love "cripple conquers all" type films, I wonder:
So what happens when there is no miracle? If you just can't succeed and overcome the odds?

one of the best quotes from John Green is That is the thing about pain: it demands to be felt.
In the novel "a fault in our stars", it is a sarcastic reaction to the kid's parents who are in denial of the pain in their kids' lives (not just physical but the pain they will never have a normal life), and  post "inspiration" posters all over the place.

Which is why I also avoid "miracle" type Christian films with their happy ending. Jesus loves me and healed me hurrah.

Right. And what if you don't get cured?

Sometimes God doesn't become a magician and voila everything is honkey dorey.

But sometimes he comes, doesn't give you a magic cure, but walks with you in your suffering and helps you along the way, both by his grace in your heart and with the hands of those around you: Family, doctors, nurses, caretakers.

  • “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” ....Aeschylus
In Tolkien, there is a goddess/Ainur Nienna, whose job is to weep. And her job is that by doing so, she turns sorrow into wisdom. "those who hearken to her learn pity, and endurance in hope. "

Hope. Not the short term type, but the deep hope (in Tolkien's book this is the concept of "estel") that everything has a meaning  behind it, and that good will triumph in the end...

Or as the good book says:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

One of Goudge's themes is this renewal: As in one of my favorites:  the Scent of Water, which is about the renewal of the spirit.

I brought some of Goudge's books with me, or bought them from the used book kiosks here.. But they are also available on

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