Apparently I’m supposed to tell you about myself because that’s what an “About” page does, right? I mean, if I were to tell you instead that Flannery O’Connor raised peacocks, Dorothy Sayers smoked cigars and rode a motorcycle, and Winston Churchill wore pink silk underwear—my mom felt it necessary to announce this last one at the dinner table one night—it might be more interesting, but you would still be disappointed because this page is meant to briefly tell you who I am and what I value so you can decide whether or not you wish to spend time reading my work.
Therefore, to prevent you from feeling deceived, I’m supposed to say something like:
Hi, my name is Chelsea Lee Carrier. I include my middle name because it has always looked more distinguished that way (like Anne spelled with an e). I live in East Tennessee, or what I call the Shire on good days and Bedford Falls on bad days. I’m the oldest of seven children, and I have a cat named Strider who likes to pounce on my head when I’m going to sleep. I’ve taught Literature and a little bit of Latin at two different private Christian schools for nine years. I love my family, friends, books, writing, strong black tea, hats, and difficult questions. Most importantly, I succeeded in convincing several classes of sixth graders that I’m married to either C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien, depending on the time of day.
But to be honest, you are more likely wanting to know:
What’s a votary of the blue flower anyway?
So, here’s to Google and Merriam-Webster:
votary: noun vo·ta·ry \ˈvō-tə-rē\
- a: devotee b: a devoted admirer
- a: a devout or zealous worshipper b: a staunch believer or advocate
- archaic: a sworn adherent
blue flower: the mystic vague object of romanticist longing especially in the 19th century —usually used with preceding the
And a more helpful definition for our context:
blue flower: an image and literary allusion employed by C.S. Lewis when describing his earliest experiences with what he called longing, Sehnsucht, or joy: “an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction” (Lewis 17-18)
votary of the blue flower: someone intensely dedicated to the desire (or pursuit) of the unquenchable
At this point you might consider playing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2. I think Bono must like Lewis. They should at least hang out one day.
Do you know how hard it is to find a blue flower? A genuinely blue flower. Not periwinkle. Not indigo. Not purple but it could pass for blue if you really, really, needed it to. And certainly not dyed.
I’m sure some scientific person will actually know the answer to this and have some smarty-pants answer, but let’s just agree, like the German Romantics, that truly blue flowers are pretty rare.
So is, if we are honest, the joy that Lewis describes. But it’s haunting. And we often mistake it for many other things, both good and bad. That’s what I’d like to share with you because the aching desire has been pursuing me, and I know I can’t be the only one.
“blue flower.” Merriam-Webster. merriam-webster.com, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blue%20flower. Accessed 29 June 2017.
Lewis, C.S. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. Harcourt, Inc. 1955.
“votary.” Merriam-Webster. merriam-webster.com, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/votary. Accessed 29 June 2017.
Cover Photo: Krzysztof Kowalik via Upsplash
Icon Photo: Mikita Karasiou via Upsplash