‘Leave Behind That Which You Were’: Pippa’s Progress


“In the sun at last, she stands in the oldest back door in the world, a rock arch smoothed by the passing of a billion years. And beneath her feet, there’s writing deep-carved in the stone. Lowering herself to her knees and clearing away obscuring dust, she reads words embedded in the granite of eternity.

Pause, dear traveller, but do not look back to former times. Remember Lot’s wife. Leave behind that which you were, for that which you were is now dead. And remember Lot’s wife, who was led by the angels out of the city of Sodom, a place of death where they could no longer live. The angels led them to the great plain of freedom.

You would not stand where you stand, traveller, or survey that which you survey unless you too seek freedom. Your world is created by your disposition and your disposition is for freedom; but your training is slavery.

So remember Lot’s wife and the psychological meaning. Like a dog returning to its vomit, she lingered in former ways, looking back on old times and former states. Thus she became something dead, a pillar of salt, unable to leave what she was, unable to become what she might be.

Do not cling to the Sodom of Ignorance but let the seed of esoteric knowledge grow within, for as it grows, you grow. Make for the chasm you cannot cross and, remembering Lot’s wife, do not look back.”

This is an extract from Pippa’s Progress, by Simon Parke, which I have just reviewed at Lay Anglicana. There are several other ‘solar plexus moments’, where the text almost takes the reader’s breath away in a shaft of recognition. I expect these moments will be different for each reader, but this chapter on ‘the eleventh stage’ (p.96) hit home for me.

The illustration is by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), Lot Fleeing with his Daughters from Sodom. The picture, in the Washington National Gallery, is oil and tempera on panel, dated about 1498. You can see the small figure of Lot’s wife, now a pillar of salt, in the background – unable to move into the future with the rest of her family.

About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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2 Responses to ‘Leave Behind That Which You Were’: Pippa’s Progress

  1. Pingback: The House Where I Grew Up: Francoise Hardy | Ratiocinativa

  2. Pingback: ‘Leave Behind That Which You Were’: Pippa’s Progress | Everything & All | Scoop.it

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