The Friday Clive

The allegorical sense of her (Mary Magdalene's) great action dawned on me the other day. The precious alabaster box which one must break over the Holy Feet is one's heart. Easier said than done. And the contents become perfume only when it is broken. While they are safe inside they are more like sewage. All very alarming.


chris said…
hi Di,

thanks for the passage! i'm sure i've read it before, but i was struck this time by how pessimistic Lewis's take on the allegorical sense of Mary Magdalene's action is. not because he thinks heartbreak is a precondition of the contents of our hearts becoming precious, but because he thinks that if the contents of our heart remain safe inside an unbroken heart, they are "more like sewage". this last bit certainly isn't suggested by the imagery of the alabaster box and the perfume: it's not as though perfume is sewage-like when shut up in an alabaster box. and granting that there is something especially or uniquely precious about self-sacrificial (heartbreak-involving) love, it seems a heart can contain genuine love of a non-self-sacrificial, non heartbreak-involving kind.a child can really and deeply love her mother or father, even if the child's heart has never been broken, so that the child's love for her parent is not heart-break involving/self-sacrificial. again, that sort of love may not be precious in the way that self-sacrificial love is, but it seems harsh to classify it as "sewage like": a lesser good is not a evil. or have i misconstrued Lewis here?
Di said…
I am not sure I would use the word harsh...perhaps hyperbole?

If the perfume had stayed in the box, shut away, it certainly would have been lost or wasted. It would have missed its purpose. I don't know enough about the components of perfume to know what it would become if just left in a box, shut away forever, but it could change its fragrance enough to not be a lovely perfume anymore (and maybe to smell awful.) Then, perhaps, the sewage term could actually be accurate.

But why would it be sewage UNTIL it is opened? That seems odd to me.

I don't always post Clive quotes that make sense to me. Sometimes I just like that he makes me think.

Always appreciate your comments, Chris.


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