Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tim Jones+: A Chink in the Curtains

My friend Tim Jones+ recently posted this at his blog, Life-Changing Prayer and has given permission for its reposting here. Where do you find the chinks?


I was reading along, not expecting to find a startling spiritual image in a twentieth-century novel by a writer not exactly known for his praying.

But W. Somerset Maugham’s character, Larry, the aimless and likeable protagonist in The Razor’s Edge, is recounting the chats he had with a hulking uncouth Polish miner. It turns out that Kosti (a simplified Polish name for the unlikely spiritual guide) had a secret love of spiritual writers (indeed, the man only had the courage to reveal his hidden longings when drunk). He ends up being a kind of spiritual mentor to Larry.
“It was all new to me and I was confused and excited,” Larry told a friend of his conversations with Kosti. And what Larry said next was what struck me: “I was like someone who’s lain awake in a darkened room and suddenly a chink of light shoots through the curtains and he knows he only has to draw them and there the country will be spread before him in a glory of the dawn.”
I wonder what that image meant to Maugham, the author. Certainly something, sometime had felt to him like at least a glimmer or a glimpse: “A chink of light shoots through the curtains.”
And to know that to draw the curtains means seeing a “country … spread out before [us] in a glory of the dawn!” I wonder what intimations he had of the spiritual possibilities.
I know that I can go along, not expecting much, not staying much on the lookout, but then I come awake, maybe for just an instant or so, to a world just out of view, one with a spreading glory, just beyond the curtains of everyday occupations.
No wonder Paul spoke in Ephesians 3:18-19 of how he hoped those hearing him would “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”
That glory seems to appear to us sometimes through a chink or in a corner or crevice. But sometimes I have the wherewithal to wonder what more lies beyond the glimmer. I might even go looking.

No comments:

Post a Comment