I suddenly knew that religion, God – something beyond everyday life – was there to be found, provided one is really willing. And I saw that though what I felt in the church was only imagination, it was a step on the way; because imagination itself can be a kind of willingness – a pretense that things are real, due to one’s longing for them. It struck me that this was somehow tied up with what the Vicar said about religion being an extension of art – and then I had a glimpse of how religion can really cure you of sorrow; somehow make use of it, turn it to beauty, just as art can make sad things beautiful.
I found myself saying: ‘Sacrifice is the secret – you have to sacrifice things for art and it’s the same
with religion; and then the sacrifice turns out to be a gain.’ Then I got confused and I couldn’t hold on to what I meant – until Miss Blossom remarked: ‘Nonsense, duckie – it’s prefectly simple. You lose yourself in something beyond yourself and it’s a lovely rest.’
I saw that, all right. Then I thought: ‘But that’s how Miss Marcy cured her sorrow, too – only she lost herself in other people instead of in religion.’ Which way of life was best – hers or the Vicar’s? I decided that he loves God and merely likes the villagers, whereas she loves the villagers and merely likes God – and then I suddenly wondered if I could combine both ways, love God and my neighbor equally. Was I really willing to? – Dodie Smith