Till We Have Faces

Light through darkness

I am including my review of CS Lewis’ Till We Have Faces from Goodreads today. Enjoy (But note that it contains spoilers if you have never read the book)!   And if you haven’t read it, you should.

This book is CS Lewis’ retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche.

I did not enjoy this book the first time I read it several years ago. I got to the end and felt I’d missed the point (I had). However, something made me pick it up to re-read a few weeks ago. I am glad I did. It certainly fits the season I am in. I can identify with Orual in many ways. When Orual cannot see Psyche’s palace, I wonder along with Orual if Psyche is imagining it or, worse, if the gods are cruelly unwilling for her to receive the beauty of Psyche’s home. When she catches a glimpse the next morning, Orual wills herself to disbelieve it because such things are not in keeping with the way she has known the world to be.

I feel that CS Lewis probably means this to be about faith and sanctification primarily (Among other things…he certainly wanted to retell the story in a way that invited sympathy for the point of view of Psyche’s sisters. Perhaps he was thinking of his atheist and agnostic friends and even his own past and was tired of the contempt and misunderstanding of Christians toward them.)

“For if the true story had been like their story, no riddle would have been set me; there would have been no guessing and no guessing wrong. More than that, it’s a story belonging to a different world, a world in which the gods show themselves clearly and don’t torment men with glimpses, nor unveil to one what they hide from another, nor ask you to believe what contradicts your eyes and ears and nose and tongue and fingers. In such a world (is there such? it’s not ours, for certain) I would have walked aright. The gods themselves would have been able to find no fault in me.” (Orual after hearing the story from the gods perspective). This is also my cry to the Lord. ‘Can you please speak clearly? I will obey if You will only TELL me.’

What I receive from this story at this time is that there can be holy and good rather than only evil motives for concealing a truth or for speaking in ways that are difficult to hear. I hear also that some answers that seem urgent in fact take a lifetime to deliver. Orual’s quote above sounds as if she has despaired and is ending with sniping and rebellion. It is actually the dying breath of her old ways of thinking and believing. She is on the edge of new life. I am now digesting and trying to apply these truths.

“You also are Psyche.”

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