Man Alive! The Meaning of Life

(The following is an excerpt from G.K. Chesterton’s “ManAlive” pp 108, 109. )

“My grandmother,” I said in a low tone, “would have said that we were all in exile, and that no earthly house could cure the holy home-sickness that forbids us rest.”

He was silent a long while, and watched a single eagle drift out beyond the Green Finger into the darkening void.

Then he said, “I think your grandmother was right,” and stood up leaning on his grassy pole.  “I think that must be the reason,” he said, “the secret of this life of man, so ecstatic and so unappeased.  But I think there is more to be said.  I think God has given us the love of special places, of a hearth and of a native land, for a good reason.”

“I dare say,” I said, “what reason!”

“Because otherwise,” he said, pointing his pole out at the sky and the abyss, “we might worship that.”

“What do you mean?” I demanded.

“Eternity,” he said in his harsh voice, “the largest of the idols–the mightiest of the rivals of God.”

“You mean pantheism and infinity and all that,” I suggested.

“I mean,” he said with increacing vehemence, “that if there be a house for me in heaven it will either have a green lamp-post and a hedge, or something quite as positive and personal as a green lamp-post and a hedge.  I mean that God bade me love one spot and serve it, and do all things however wild in praise of it, so that this one spot might be a witness against all the infinities and the sophistries, that Paradise is somewhere and not anywhere, is something and not anything.  And I would not be so very much surprised if the house in heaven had a real green lamp-post after all.”

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