13 April 2012

The Lifeline Is a Death Line

In the essay "A Slip of the Tongue," Lewis is talking about how reluctant we are to give ourselves fully to the Lord, how frighteningly dangerous that feels--and yet how it is our only safety.
This is my endless recurrent temptation: to go down to that Sea (I think St. John of the Cross called God a sea) and there neither dive nor swim nor float, but only dabble and splash, careful not to get out of my depth and holding on to the lifeline which connects me with things temporal. . . .

Our temptation is to look eagerly for the minimum that will be accepted. We are in fact very like honest but reluctant taxpayers. We approve of an income tax in principle. . . . But we dread a rise in the tax. We are very careful to pay no more than is necessary. And we hope--we very ardently hope--that after we have paid it there will still be enough left to live on. . . .

Swimming lessons are better than a lifeline to the shore. For of course that lifeline is really a death line. There is no parallel to paying taxes and living on the remainder. For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is ourselves. 
--C. S. Lewis, 'A Slip of the Tongue,' in The Weight of Glory, 139-41

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