Saturday, February 4, 2012

Explaining the Name: Becoming Psyche

While we were at a field trip to the museum this weekend, I happened upon this beautiful statue of Cupid and Psyche. So, I figured this would be a great segue to explaining the name I chose for this blog. It makes perfect sense to me, but perhaps if you have not read C.S. Lewis's novel Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, you may require some explanation.

Let me begin by briefly recapping the book. [Caution: spoilers included!] It is based on the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche. The main characters are two sisters, princesses in fact, though not in the way we imagine princesses: Orual and Istra, also known as Psyche. Orual grows up in fear, mistrust, and hatred for the faceless goddess Ungit. Carefree Psyche, meanwhile, feels drawn to the mountain, where the son of the goddess is said to live. Through a series of events, the people grow to believe Psyche is a goddess, but when events turn, so does their loyalty, and Psyche is left tied up on a cliff as a living sacrifice for the god of the mountain. Sometime later, Orual, wandering the mountainside in mourning for her lost sister, is surpised to find Psyche living there quite happy, but apparently delusional. Psyche claims that she is in a palace, that the water she gives her sister is wine, and that she has become the bride of the god of the mountain. Unable to convince her sister to return home with her but fearing she is being taken advantage of by a man, Orual persuades Psyche to light a candle in the night to reveal the form of this god, whom Psyche has been forbidden to see. When Psyche does this, trespassing against the god's command, he banishes her, condemning her to perform three impossible tasks. Orual, upon observing this mourns even more for the horrible fate to which she has doomed her sister. Through a series of dreams, Orual sees Psyche performing the tasks and helps her, unseen, despite experiencing immense pain in doing so. Later, Orual is judged by the gods and, amazingly, finds forgiveness. And as she is welcomed into fellowship, she catches her reflection and realizes that she too has become Psyche.

Why do I identify with this story? I see it as an allegory for the Christian life. Whether we come to faith easily as Psyche does and receive trials later, or whether it is our suffering that brings us to Christ, God uses our trials to conform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Becoming Psyche is a metaphor for becoming the bride of Christ. Little by little He is transforming me.

If you haven't read the book yet, I highly recommend it. It is my favorite book, and one of the few books I have read more than once.

What is one book that has influenced your life?

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