Stories from a life in progress.

The lizard

In his book The Great Divorce (an allegorical fantasy about a peculiar bus trip to Hell and then Heaven), C. S. Lewis describes a ghost with a little red lizard on his shoulder.  The lizard is an embodiment of a particular sin, and the ghost struggles to decide whether or not to keep his familiar lizard companion and be doomed to existence in Hell, or whether he will permit a terrifying, bright, burning angel to kill the lizard so he can be free -- with no promise that removing the lizard won't be dreadfully painful to the ghost, and no specific certainty of what will happen to the ghost once the lizard is gone.

You can look up the story if you want to see how it turns out, it's well worth it (believe me, my brief description does not do it justice, and this is only one tiny part of the whole story).  Today my mind is captured by the image of the lizard.  I feel like I can relate to that poor ghost.

Yesterday I felt such a sense of tangible, strangling fear, that it started to take on a real shape in my imagination -- maybe inspired by some tucked-away memory of Lewis' lizard, though I didn't make the connection until later.  This fear doesn't look like a tiny red lizard to me, though.  It's coiled, black, muscular, and pitiless.  It doesn't care about me, it only cares that it gets to live -- and that means keeping me strangled and tame, keeping me from dealing with my fear about money and the bigger fear living somewhere underneath.

Maybe it isn't really a huge, strong thing.  Maybe my eyes are what's darkened, maybe its size is all shadow and illusion.  Maybe there's a burning, invisible angel close by, hands ready to grab my tiny lizard and kill it.  I only know that, whatever its form, it needs to die and I can't do that by myself.