This post continues my theme of drawing wisdom from Ursula Le Guin’s Orsinian Tales. You can check out some of my previous posts for a more detailed summary of the book.
The story Brothers and Sisters follows two brothers and their sister and their interactions with each other and the people of the town. Without explaining the story, I want to share a little of Le Guin’s eloquence in character development.
She describes the characters. The oldest brother is a man. The second, Stefan, is a young man. And their sister is thirteen, just growing up, just learning how to interact with other people, figuring out how to carry herself. Le Guin describes her interactions with Stefan:
Usually she and Stefan quarreled, touching each other where each was raw, unfinished.
I love this understanding of humanity.
I love this understanding of growth.
…and I love that she can craft one sentence with this much wisdom.
I do not hesitate to state that I am unfinished. I am raw. I am in process. I am incomplete.
The finished work of Christ is still effecting me, molding me, changing me, growing me.
Le Guin is not a Christian and I would disagree with her on what a “finished” human looks like and how a human becomes finished. Regardless, the fact that we are currently unfinished is not an exclusively Christian truth. It is a human truth.
We are all unfinished. We are unfinished people bumping into each other with all of our sharp edges sticking out. Usually the outworking of my unfinished state takes the form of sin. When my sin touches another where he or she is finished, there is pain, but also love, understanding, pity, humility, hope, and help. When my unfinished place touches another person’s unfinished place, there is pain and struggle and hurt and conflict and anger and confusion.
What if we went through our days with this understanding ever present in our minds?
What if we interacted as unfinished people with unfinished people while acknowledging the unfinishedness?
How would it change your gut reaction to rudeness, anger, snobbery, stupidity, arrogance, bigotry, etc. if you stopped to think, “this person is unfinished. I can see this, but his action still hurts me. It hurts me most in precisely the areas that I, too, am unfinished”
Could you live in this world a little more easily, a little more freely, if you no longer expected unfinished people to act like finished people?
Would you have a little less anxiety when you quarreled if you knew you were raw and unfinished?
Although Le Guin herself is not a fan of C.S. Lewis, but I keep finding the same Truth in both of their writings. This reminds me of Aslan’s interaction with Digory in C. S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew. Digory was filled with anxiety about his sick mother and didn’t know how to interact with Aslan, didn’t know if Aslan cared. Aslan responded:
"My son, my son," said Aslan. "I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another. ..."