Soon after his conversion, C. S. Lewis wrote The Pilgrim’s Regress which was first copyright in 1933. It is a deeply insightful allegory of Lewis’ own journey that led him to the Lord. At one point, the main character, John, and his companion Vertue come up to a huge canyon. Near the edge of the canyon they meet a very old woman in a rocking chair. She calmly tells them that the only way they can make it through the canyon is if she carries them down. Her name is Mother Kirk.
“‘Oh, it’s you, Mother Kirk, is it?’ said Vertue, and added in an undertone to John, ‘I have seen her about the cliffs more than once. Some of the country people say she is second-sighted, and some that she is crazy.’
‘I shouldn’t trust her,’ said John in the same tone. ‘She looks to me much more like a witch.’ Then he turned to the old woman and said aloud: ‘And how could you carry us down, mother? We would be more fit to carry you.’
‘I could do it, though,’ said Mother Kirk, ‘by the power that the Landlord has given me.’
‘So you believe in the Landlord too?’ said John.
‘How can I not, dear,’ said she, ‘when I am his own daughter-in-law?’
‘He does not give you very fine clothes,’ said John, glancing at the old woman’s country cloak.
‘They’ll last my time,’ said the old woman placidly.
‘We ought to try her,’ whispered Vertue to John. ‘As long as there is any chance we are not allowed to neglect it.’ But John frowned at him to be silent and addressed the old woman again.
‘Do you not think this Landlord of yours is a very strange one?’ he said.
‘How so?’ said she.
‘Why does he make a road like this running up to the very edge of a precipice – unless it is to encourage travelers to break their necks in the dark?’
‘Oh, bless you, he never left it like that,’ said the old woman. ‘It was a good road all round the world when it was new, and all this gorge is far later than the road.’
‘You mean,’ said Vertue, ‘that there has been some sort of catastrophe?’
“Well,’ said Mother Kirk, ‘I see there will be no getting you down tonight, so I may as well tell you the story. Come and sit down by me…’” (p.70-71).
If you’ve read Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Lewis’ Surprised by Joy, you’re ready to read this great allegory: Pilgrim’s Regress. It’s available on Kindle and it’s less than $6 used. Highly recommended!
rev shane lems