Wednesday, March 19, 2014

In a Sea of Sand

One of my joys is nonsense poetry and Lewis Carol, author of Alice in Wonderland is a master. His poem, “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” from, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, is easily a favorite of mine. On a good day a can recite much of it from memory, whether I’m asked or not.

Lewis Carol was in real life a math professor and an Anglican Deacon. I’ve read a collection of his letters and he clearly didn’t like people making more of the nonsense than was needed. So, the liberties I’m about to take with “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” would probably not be appreciated by the author.

Basically, the poem is a story about a walrus and a carpenter who are walking along a beach. A pleasant sort of thing to most of us but Lewis Carol is reported to have hated beaches. They trick some oysters to join them for a picnic. Later the oysters realize that they ARE the picnic. Afterwards, Alice is made to choose which of the two characters is better: the Carpenter even though he doesn’t care about the oysters or the Walrus who eats more.

Anyway, at one point the Walrus and the Carpenter, both of whom hate the sand, wonder if seven maids, with seven mops could sweep it clear. The Walrus and the Carpenter represent humanity and all our careless gluttony. The sand is the season of Lent. The ocean is God. And the beach is where everything we know (things) meets everything unknown (God). The Walrus and the Carpenter want Lent (and all faith) to come to an unnatural end.

Lent will come to an end and Easter will bring great joy (greater joy than Christmas) because all this happens out of God’s love and desire to be in relationship with all that God has made. The Carpenter didn’t care. The Walrus pretended to care but took more. Alice thinks both are rather unpleasant. All this to say, God calls us to care as much as God does, for everyone and every bit of creation.

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