Beware of Muddle

Isn’t it lovely the way a truly great book lingers with you long after the cover is closed? I dreamed about the end of A Room With a View last night, and this morning I pulled it off the shelf and looked up Mr. Emerson’s heartfelt speech to Lucy in the second to the last chapter. In quiet, isolated perusal it struck me in a different way than it had when I was reading it out loud to Philip in a fevered excitement over what was going to happen (even though we both already knew); the dreadful and yet strangely liberating truth—conveyed through Lucy’s uncertainty and Mr. Emerson’s almost despairing entreaty that she heed the voice of her deepest longings—stood on its own with such a winsome appeal that I’ve been pondering it ever since.

It seems to me that you are in a muddle…Take an old man’s word; there’s nothing worse than a muddle in all the world. It is easy to face Death and Fate, and the things that sound so dreadful. It is on my muddles that I look back with horror—on the things that I might have avoided. We can help one another but little. I used to think I could teach young people the whole of life, but I know better now, and all my teaching of George has come down to this: beware of muddle…Though life is very glorious, it is difficult.

Such a tender warning; how many of my own trials have been the product of mental tangles, of mindsets and attitudes that cloud the judgment and blind the eyes to the glories of the unknown? With all of the wondrous and often baffling choices in life comes great possibility for muddle—and for unimagined joy, as well. E. M. Forster has been called a champion of the holiness of the heart’s desires. With what irresistible sweetness does his clarion call greet the ears of those who believe, as I do, that the longings of the human heart have their ultimate source and satisfaction in God Himself.

The things that I might have avoided…the very words rouse me to an inner spring cleaning of sorts, a taking of stock, a severe scrutiny of impeding ideas. Lead me in a plain path because of my enemies…Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul unto You…Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart…

Life is Difficult, and most of its great battles are fought out before no eyes but God’s, in the hidden depths of the personality, beyond all human observation. But it is Glorious, too. And its glimpses of Eden, sprinkled with such divine care through the round of daily life, should give us courage to face the muddles head on, knowing that the Author of the heart’s desires is at work to restore all things to what He dreamt they should be in the first place.


5 Responses to “Beware of Muddle”

  1. Melinda says:

    I haven’t read A Room with a View, but I did see the movie and read his Howard’s End. Ah, Forester is maddening! I come away from his books and the films made from his books thoroughly frustrated. The a Room with a View movie drove me batty. Same with Howard’s End, both film and book. When I read Forester, I want to clutch my head and scream. He does hit the nail on the head with his thoughts on muddle, though. He truly knows how to create muddle in his works. He is brilliant, but oh so muddled. Coming away from Forester, I want to all the more embrace my not-so-muddled life.

  2. No, Melinda,I won’t deny that Forster, gifted as he was in the arts of human nature, had some very unfortunate–I would even say tragic–misuderstandings about God. But isn’t that what muddles are, in the most basic sense? πŸ™‚ Whenever I find myself confused, kerflummoxed about something great or small, I can usually trace it back to something that I’ve misunderstood about God. Or, at the very least, a truth about Him that I’ve momentarily misplaced. πŸ™‚ It’s good to be reminded how pernicious those innocent-looking muddles really are…
    But, ah! A Room With a View…the very strains of ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ make me want to swoon! πŸ™‚ Granted, there is a very unnecessarily gratuitous scene in the film that I was totally unprepared for the first time I saw it and which has henceforth been fast-forwarded over in subsequent viewings. I guess I should have added that disclaimer! πŸ™‚

  3. Melinda says:

    Yes, you are right, but there is something in the way that Forrester is muddled that frustrates me so much. I appreciate him, I think him genius, but I cannot abide long acquaintances with him. To each her own. πŸ˜‰

    I saw the film edited, so I did not have to endure such a scene. πŸ™‚ I rent most of my movies through

  4. Melinda says:

    And if I could spell, I could be ever more helpful! πŸ˜‰ I meant

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