Suggestions of the real thing

When the smell of autumn floats through an open window and fills the house.
When they both sleep a little late, and the coffee’s hot and fresh, and the house is still.
When my baby boy’s smile seems to say, “I find you amusing, Mother.”
When my daughter looks up from playing, and I know she’s checking to see that I’m still near, and I’m filled with gratitude that I get to be the person she pauses to look for.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the world is a fallen place.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”

– C. S. Lewis, an oft quoted passage from Mere Christianity (emphasis mine)

Leave a comment if you’d like to share your “suggestions of the real thing”.

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The most mysterious mystery

Happy October, folks!Bird pumpkin in birdbath

Here’s a mystery and a tragedy to start off the season of spookiness.

…or, as I like to think of it, the month of ambiguous decorations– “Can I make a Jack-O-Lantern soap holder count for autumn and Thanksgiving, too? Is my neglected landscaping finally acceptable as a spooky-house decoration? And, we’re back… a mystery and a tragedy.  Prepare yourself. This may be traumatic. Unless you’re an expert on Charles Dickens, in which case, read on for a good chuckle… and thank your English professors, your favorite Charles Dickens blog, or whatever it is that has preserved you from experiencing the repercussions of the mistake I made last month.

During a perusal of a few shelves at the library, I stumbled onto a pleasant surprise– a book that seemed to combine a beloved genre and a beloved writer. How had I managed to avoid the knowledge that Dickens wrote a mystery? I’m  no Dickens expert– clearly– but I didn’t think I was so oblivious as this discovery suggested.

I took a class on Dickens in college.

I took a Dickens-themed tour of London.

Yet, never had I heard of his forray into the world of straight-up murder mystery. That’s Poe’s realm, isn’t it? And Agatha Christie’s? And, of course, the Hardy Boys, and– you know you want to judge me– the Babysitter Club Mystery Series.

The sad, tragic point is this: I began reading The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens, with no clue [ha, ha, get it? clue?] that Mr. Dickens died of a stroke in June, 1870, exactly half-way through writing the book. Summary: After reeling you in for twenty-two chapters of mysterious motives, a missing (murdered?) character, and several other “loose ends,” nothing gets solved.I was on page 220 when I made this discovery through a careless glance at the synopsis on the back cover of the book. The paragraph began with something along the lines of,

“The most mysterious thing about the Mystery of Edwin Drood, is what happens in the 22 chapters Dickens didn’t write, sucker!”

After recovering my heartbeat… I kept reading the book. I sustained myself with the hopeful idea that the missing half of the book wasn’t really necessary for the story. I mean, I could confidently speculate on who did it and how he did it… what else is there? Um… plenty. My speculations could be wrong. That’s half the fun of mysteries.

And, this is Dickens, after all.

In fact, Chapter 18 (four chapters shy of the middle– which turned out to be the end) brings in a brand stinkin’ new character (although theories suggest that this is actually one of the other characters in disguise!).

All this is to say, if you crave resolution and are already slightly prone to getting caught up in the crazy in your own head, grab A Tale of Two Cities. You may cringe or cry, but you’ll put the book down with a sense of closure, and most likely be able to move on with your life.

But, if you’re up for a challenge, and can easily separate “real life” from “novel life,” you might be able to handle 22 chapters of engrossing Dickens-style spookiness, with no sigh of resolution at the “end”.

Just prepare your loved ones for the inevitable Chapter 22 “What? For real!? That’s It?” rant.

Happy October!

*First image is from www.bhg.com. Second image from www.amazon.com, cover design by Robert Mathias, cover illustration Hereford Cathedral, Floodlit at Night (1994) by Huw S. Parsons.