Courting The Dumb Witch

(She is herself.  Offer her neither worship nor contempt.  Meet her and know her.  If we are immortal, and if she is doomed (as scientists tell us) to run down and die, we shall miss this half-shy and half-flamboyant creature, this ogress, this hoyden, this incorrigible fairy, this dumb witch.  But theologians tell us that she, like ourselves, is to be redeemed.  The “vanity” to which she was subjected was her disease, not her essence.  She will be cured in character: not tamed (Heaven forbid) nor sterilized.  We shall still be able to recognize our old enemy, friend, playfellow and foster-mother, so perfected as to be not less, but more, herself.  And that will be a merry meeting.) – CS Lewis “Miracles” chapter 9.

As I write this, I sit at home in NC, looking out at the rainy landscape, day dreaming about the adventures that I had in those distant woods.  I can barely glimpse the tops of the trees that used to represent all that was wild and wonderful within me.

It was a long journey from the safety of my backyard through the fields to the boundaries of the forest.  Once through the impenetrable briars and small brush that outlined the woods, the thickets opened up into a world of endless possibilities.

Somewhere back there the rusted carcass of an old Ford combine still sits, fighting off its inevitable destruction.  It was an ancient landmark in the days when I traveled the woods.

Past the combine was another field.  The other side of this field will always be a mystery.  The world beyond it was too big for me.  My mind couldn’t cope with whatever lay on the other side.

I had no qualms about the forest surrounding this field though.  The hardwood thickets gave way to low lying swamp lands where solid ground became a luxury.  I eventually learned that a trek through this swamp lead to the Chowan River.

This swamp was wild; and most importantly, it was insurmountably dangerous.  There were all manner of poisonous snakes, spiders, and plants.  It was filled with dangerous creatures like bears, wolves, and coyotes.  The footing was treacherous.

Despite these perils, the thrill of adventure pulled me (as it would any youngster).

Has this unadulterated yearning for dominion been maliciously eliminated from my psyche by the ravages of modernity?  God forbid it.  What a terrible crime to separate a boy from this “incorrigible fairy”.  To steal the excitement of facing this “ogress”.  To punish him for courting the dumb witch.

How I miss the mistress of my youth, and what I wouldn’t give for her to be redeemed so that we might, once again, enjoy each others company.

Give me liberty, or give me death.

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