Opening The Black Box: Part 4

Fortunately for the proud soldier, his servants catch up with him and beg him to re-think it. ‘Father,' they say, ‘if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn't you have done it? So why not this simple wash and be clean?' So he does. He immerses himself in the Jordan seven times and his skin becomes like that of a newborn baby: as good as new. He goes back to the Holy Man and says, ‘I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there's no God anywhere on earth other than the God of Israel. Let me give you a gift.' ‘As GOD lives,' Elisha says, ‘the God whom I serve; I'll take nothing from you.'*** Here in my dusty office I'm cornered, especially my pride. I do the thinking and praying and make a bargain with God. If, when I meet this hypnotherapy healer, he feels creepy, I'll simply walk away. When I get into his office, I'll ask if I can pray to sanctify the place in the name and the blood of Jesus. If he says no, it's deal over. Perhaps I'm being too fussy. But I don't think so. I've done the bit about ‘trusting… and not trying to work it out on my own.' I've kept that condition, so the High King of Heaven has to keep his ‘making my paths straight' part of the deal. Weeks pass. Chest pains that I've had for years are as bad as ever. It will be some time before I get to see the healer or maybe faker. Hypnotherapists have been known to indulge in confabulation: the creation of false memories. In the meantime, a full on brawl or a run through a plate glass window would be nice. Back in the powdery old office, I make a call to my counsellor friend. She has some better ideas than plate glass and brawls. ‘It will be a while,' I say to her, ‘before I get to see this guy.' ‘Feel free to call me any time if you need to talk.' ‘Okay.' ‘And by the way,' she says, ‘Pain is not your enemy. It's your friend.' Another day of premonitions passes—and time for dinner. Our teenage children and younger ones gather at the table. The aroma of a spicy Laksa soup has my mouth watering. We say thanks to the High King and talk about the day: an embarrassing story about an embarrassing teacher at school topping the list. Meanwhile, my lover, without even trying, has dished up something else I don't even know the name of, which tastes amazing. It's her way; never before tasted recipes and never before heard songs from her inexhaustible treasures. But in my preoccupied state, these treasures are barely noticed. At my writer's table—in the future called now—I reflect on Spenser's Faery Queene and the fact that this beloved (partially read) poem of my premonition days had become a favourite; a sweet diversion. In there, as CS Lewis observes, ‘Images of good appear with a veiled, mysterious, even hidden character. But at first we don't see them at all, we just see images of evil.'1 I think I really get what Spenser is doing in his Faery Queene. It's as if the bones of real goodness can only ever be truly felt whilst embedded in the flesh of another human being or of everyday life. All attempts to explain, to spell out, to ‘bone out' such goodness from its natural body of flesh ending in a butchered failure: a so-called goodness that looks stupid, naïve and contrived. Hence, the beautiful Princess Una of the Faery Queene wears a black cloak and is always veiled as she travels with the Red Cross Knight on his adventures—patiently being there *with him* whilst he wields that sword and clashes steel against steel, gets lost, finds her and finds the way again. He doesn't know it but he needs her more than she needs him. And she doesn't seem to know it either. 1 CS Lewis (with Alistair Fowler) Spenser's Images of Life (Cambridge University Press, 1967, 2013 University Printing House, Cambridge CB2, UK) p.79-80

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