Interiors

The Second Sunday of Pentecost

Dear Faithful Family & Friends,

First, an update:  I am doing very well!  Herceptin infusions continue, once every three weeks, without any noticeable side effects. I am going strong with swimming and water aerobics.  I have worked back up to swimming one mile per session [about 2-3 times per week].

On May 10, Daniel & Haley & Benjamin moved here from Waco, TX.  They lived with us for three weeks and are now settling into their first home, which is only six houses away from Garrett’s home [and only minutes away from our home]!

Second, family and friends often ask me, “Why/when did you become Anglican?” I wrote “Interiors” a couple of years ago, in order to provide a brief answer to that question.  I begin with a quote by C. S. Lewis.

Interiors

“I hope no reader will suppose that ‘mere’ Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions – as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else.  It is more like a hall out of which doors open to several rooms.  If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted.  But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals.  The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in.  For that purpose the worst of the rooms [whichever that may be] is, I think, preferable.  It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at.  I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that is good for him to wait.  When you do get into your room you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise.  But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping.  You must keep on praying for light:  and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house.  And above all, you must be asking which door is the true one, not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling.  In plain language, the question should never be, ‘Do I like that kind of service?’ but ‘Are these doctrines true:  Is holiness here?  Does my conscience move me toward this?  Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?’

When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall.  If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them.  That is one of the rules common to the whole house.”

~C. S. Lewis, excerpt from the book, Mere Christianity, 1952, Macmillan Publishing.

 

The above imagery by Lewis reminds me of my childhood discovery on a wintry day at the 1920 home of my grandmother:

In the center of the house was a fully-enclosed, dark, square hall.  Four doors, located north, south, east, and west, opened up from the hall into various rooms.  Also, the central stairway was located inside the hall.  I climbed the stairs and located two doors, one to either side of the landing.  I opened one of the doors, which revealed a guest room.  Inside the room, I opened an interior door, which led to a dark, small, musty clothes-closet.  I pushed aside the hanging clothes and discovered that – lo and behold!  A secret door was hidden at the back of the clothes-closet!  I opened this concealed door and stepped into a cavernous attic room, filled with sunlight.  I squinted my eyes, to adjust to the brightness.  I positioned a chair underneath a large window.  I climbed up and opened the window latch.  I stood on tip-toes to scan the wide, clear sky and to breathe the crisp, cold air.

“Not all who wander are lost.” [Tolkein] I was not lost but I was a wanderer for 25 years within the “hall” of contemporary evangelical churches, which endeavored to be inter-denominational or non-denominational.  I began to yearn for a more permanent residence:  one that embraced Community and Creed, Doxology and Theology, Faith and Reason.

One Christmas Eve, 2000, I tried the door leading to Anglicanism, where I found fires, chairs and meals:  Here was the warmth of community with believers, not merely contemporary and local, but also historical and global.  Here was the sturdy foundation of doctrine, based upon the Authority of Holy Scripture, assisted now by Faith, Reason and Tradition.  Here also was nourishment, not only from the reading and preaching of the Word, but also from the real and living Presence of Christ, in the Holy Eucharist.

Opening the door to Anglicanism revealed yet another door:  a portal to the creeds, prayers, and hymns of ancient and historic Christian faith.  My search had brought me full circle:  As a child, I attended liturgical worship services, which shaped me in ways that were subtle, yet strong and sure, for as N. T. Wright reminds us, “The Liturgy is a means of grace; it is God ministering to us.”

The Language of Liturgy slowly unveils to us the meaning of its metaphors.  The Words of Worship strengthen and sustain us; they form and transform us.  The Language and Words, vast and ageless, are filled with light and life.

~~~Margot Blair Payne, Advent 2007

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2 Comments

Filed under Christmas Eve

2 responses to “Interiors

  1. Susan Eaton

    Margo
    Reading about your journey to Anglicanism has reminded me of those room(s), as my family moved every year, where I spent the first 15 years of my life as an Episcopalian. I took the services with their liturgy, Cross and choir processions, and kneeling (and sitting and standing and…) all for granted .
    It is reassuring to read that being in the hallway is not a sin, but a waiting room from which God’s grace calls us. I sat complacently, lethargically there for 15 years.

    When we returned to the Episcopal–now Anglican Church at St. Peter’s, I became 15 years old again. But this wasn’t “church”. This was Worship. For the first 3 Sundays, I was unable to pray as I trembled on the kneeler, so grateful, so awe-inspired, begging the Holy Spirit to make known the intensity of the gratitude and peace I felt, to God.

    Nothing is so powerful as the “precious” in one’s life
    ebbing slowly away, or disappearing in an instant of cruel realization. But nothing becomes so comforting as the Precious One who returns the peace which was lost.

    Thank God for the power of peace which passes all understanding; for the God who is present throughout the house, waiting to pour out his grace upon us.

  2. margopayne

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you for your beautiful expression of the majesty and grandeur of worship and the gratitude toward the Triune God, for His grace toward us.

    You express yourself very well. I always enjoy reading your comments and I thank you for reading and taking the time to comment on my blog updates.

    Coram Deo,
    Margot

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