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.