For many millions the world over, this is a week of musing over the deepest things. Some look for quiet, some for conversation. Whoever we are, whatever we do, the longings are the same: we want to go further up and further in to the things that matter most.
Years ago I found an old book, “The Man Born to be King” by Dorothy Sayers, and I keep reading it, wanting one more time to think about what I believe and why I believe it— and then too, to ponder why my heart falters, believing and not believing, stumbling along as I do, longing for grace.
In 1941 the BBC commissioned Sayers, the distinguished and gifted writer known for her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, as well as her translation of Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” to develop twelve plays telling the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The plays became a book in 1942, and Dr. J.W. Welch of the BBC wrote the Foreword, saying “I must humbly confess that these plays revealed the poverty and incompleteness of my own belief in the Incarnation. Again and again when the figure of Christ in these plays faced one with a direct challenge, one’s reaction was ‘No! Not that, anything but that!’ The Christ in these plays is, for any who are prepared to read them and think [“think” is italicized], a veritable Hound of Heaven.”
A remarkably able writer in many genres, her essays are among her best gifts; one that I have most loved is, “The Dogma is the Drama.” Her thesis is simple, yet profound— creedal convictions are themselves the drama. Never to be abstracted, not to be cut up and sorted out, but instead they are a story with force and power and weight, inviting all those with ears to hear, to listen. With unusual wisdom and insight, “The Man Born to be King” is its own artful argument that “the dogma is the drama.”
This Holy Week I am reading my way through the plays, taking in what I am able– learning from Jesus which is its own apprenticeship into being holy and human at the same time, but also from Sayers, whose great mind and deep heart allow all of us to listen more carefully…. to think, as Dr. Welch once put it, about the things that matter most.