C.S Lewis’s surviving BBC radio address
during the war years cs lewis gave a series of radio address to the nation. a war weary and bedraggled population drew inspiration from these addresses… these books were later compiled into a book called… mere christianity…
this idea of – at the same moment ness
some things are not in time at all..
god has infinite attention.. infinite measure to spare for each one of us.. he doesn’t have to take us as the lump.. you’re as much alone with him …as if you were the only thing he ever created…
main subject: people acting from old natural selves… won’t do much permanent good to other people…
Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) was a British novelist, poet, academic,medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist. He held academic positions at both Oxford University (Magdalen College), 1925–54, and Cambridge University(Magdalene College), 1954–63. He is best known for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.
Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. They both served on the English faculty at Oxford University, and were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the Inklings. According to Lewis’ memoir Surprised by Joy, he was baptised in the Church of Ireland, but fell away from his faith during adolescence. Lewis returned to the Anglican Communion at the age of 32, owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, and he became an “ordinary layman of the Church of England”. His faith profoundly affected his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.
In 1956, he married American writer Joy Davidman; she died of cancer four years later at the age of 45. Lewis died on 22 November 1963 from renal failure, one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal, as he and fellow British author Aldous Huxley died on the same day that US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis was honoured with a memorial in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.
adding page after reading this.. via s..
If God was indeed “stalking” Lewis, this pursuit often took the form of conversations with his friends — not only Tolkien, but other bright scholars who saw no contradiction between their intellectualism and their faith. They challenged Lewis’ conviction that the head and the heart could not be combined, peppered him with searching questions he struggled to answer to his satisfaction, and ultimately set him off on a journey to see if rational underpinnings for theism could be found.
Myths, Tolkien explains, are not fairy tales, intentional lies, or mere fabrications, but are instead powerful vehicles for revealing the world’s deepest truths. All myths, he argues, illuminate layers and dimensions of existence that are often missed by our narrow human vision. In this way, they can actually be more “real” than what we normally call reality. Tolkien posits that mythmakers exercise a God-given power, and act as “sub-creators” who share pieces of the ultimate Truth that is hidden from plain sight. All the world’s myths then serve as prisms through which we can see fragments of divine light. Stories, Tolkien argues, are sacramental
Lewis has gone from believing that Christianity is a myth that is false like all other myths, to feeling that he must think Christianity is a true religion, wholly different from the false world of mythology. Tolkien suggests another perspective: that all myths reflect “a splintered fragment of the true light,” and that Christianity is a “true myth” that encompasses and expands on all the rest. That is, while God had formerly used the poetic images and traditions of other cultures to express himself, Christ had come in real historical time to live out a story that actually happened.
Yet, Tolkien challenges his friend, the Christian story of atonement and resurrection should still be approached just as Lewis had the Norse tales of gods like Baldr — allowing the story to deeply and mysteriously move him. Like all myths, the true myth of Christ was not to be grasped mechanistically, as a literal description of things that had happened, but imaginatively, for its meaning. The Christian myth was true not in the sense of revealing the actual nature of God, and how exactly mankind had been redeemed, which finite minds could not possibly comprehend; it was true in the sense that the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection composed the best vehicle — the best narrative — by which the human mind could be illuminated and catch a glimpse of the deeper structure underlying the eternities.
As Tolkien speaks, Lewis realizes that these two inclinations needn’t be at odds, and can in fact be reconciled. He sees that faith can be the greatest catalyst for imagination, and that imagination can conceive of a reality more real than that which can be discovered by clinical observation alone.
a “true myth” — a story that illuminates truths which transcend the concrete who/what/where details of the narrative itself and give us a glimpse of the deeper structure of things.
In her book, Reclaiming Conversation, MIT professor Sherry Turkle documents the woeful evidence that we moderns are increasingly fleeing from “conversation that is open-ended and spontaneous, conversation in which we play with ideas.” We hide behind screens, and communicate as much as possible through email and text. We justify these moves on the basis of efficiency, and the fact that in having the ability to edit our messages, we can be more “ourselves” and make sure we say things “just right.”
true. we find things to hide behind all the time. ie: letter writing.. whatever.
But much is lost in this retreat from in-the-flesh interaction. *Tech-mediated communication may make conversation more efficient, but it also makes it more superficial. It **shrivels our empathy and feeling of true connection — states that are predicated on our being able to hear each other’s voices, read each other’s body language, and see each other’s facial expressions. We not only lose out on insights into the lives of others, but into our own as well.
* tech – indeed it can. but not a given. in fact.. many experience deeper convos when superficial physicalities fade..
Time. Good conversation does not operate on the principle of efficiency. It needs to be open-ended — without chronological parameters or set agenda.
The conversation he had with Tolkien did indeed transform his whole outlook on Christianity, but it was a conversation that wouldn’t have been possible if not for all the discussions the two men had previously enjoyed over the years.
mary ann ness et al
fitting w/short film based on oliver sacks‘.. the man who thought his wife was a hat ness.. how memory is so much of us..
“You really don’t know when you are going to have an important conversation. You have to show up for many conversations that feel inefficient or boring to be there for the conversation that changes your mind.”
interesting.. that’s exactly what she rips on twitter for.. (book on hold on overdrive)
Those are the golden sessions … when our slippers are on, our feet spread out towards the blaze and our drinks at our elbows; when the whole world, and something beyond the world, opens itself to our minds as we talk; and no one has any claim on or any responsibility for another, but all are freemen and equals as if we had first met an hour ago, while at the same time an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. Life — natural life — has no better gift to give
Magical, even life-changing things can happen when you choose to enter into conversation — when you choose spontaneity over editing and efficiency. But it is paradoxically a spontaneity that one must intentionally seek and ready oneself for
walks and talks.. so good..
a grief observed..
A Grief Observed is a collection of C. S. Lewis’s reflections on the experience of bereavement following the death of his wife, Joy Davidman, in 1960. The book was first published in 1961 under the pseudonym N.W. Clerk as Lewis wished to avoid identification as the author. Though republished in 1963 after his death under his own name, the text still refers to his wife as “H” (her first name, which she rarely used, was Helen). The book is compiled from the four notebooks which Lewis used to vent and explore his grief. He illustrates the everyday trials of his life without Joy and explores fundamental questions of faith and theodicy. Lewis’s step-son (Joy’s son) Douglas Gresham points out in his 1994 introduction that the indefinite article ‘a’ in the title makes it clear that Lewis’s grief is not the quintessential grief experience at the loss of a loved one, but one individual’s perspective among countless others. The book helped inspire a 1985 television movieShadowlands, as well as a 1993 film of the same name.
A Grief Observed explores the processes which the human brain and mind undergo over the course of grieving. The book questions the nature of grief, and whether or not returning to normalcy thereafter is even possible within the realm of human existence on earth. Based on a personal journal he kept, Lewis refers to his wife as “H” throughout this series of reflections, and reveals that she had died from cancer only three years after their marriage. The book is extremely candid, and it details the anger and bewilderment he had felt towards God after H’s death, as well as his impressions of life without her. The period of his bereavement was marked by a process of moving in and out of various stages of grief and remembrance, and it becomes obvious that it heavily influenced his spirituality. In fact, Lewis ultimately comes to a revolutionary redefinition of his own characterisation of God: experiencing gratitude for having received and experienced the gift of a true love.
The book is divided into four parts, each headed with a Roman numeral, and each a collection of excerpts from his journals documenting scattered impressions and his continuously evolving state of mind.
A Grief Observed and The Problem of Pain
The book is often compared to another book by Lewis, The Problem of Pain, written approximately twenty years before A Grief Observed. The Problem of Pain seeks to provide theory behind the pain in the world. A Grief Observed is the reality of the theory in The Problem of Pain. It was more difficult to apply the theories he posited to a pain with which he was so intimately involved. At first it is hard for Lewis to see the reason of his theories amidst the anguish of his wife’s death but through the book one can see the gradual reacceptance of these theories, the reacceptance of the necessity of suffering.
Lewis’ difficulty is specifically reflected in the following passage from the book: “Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?” And Lewis’ ultimate resolution of his dilemma is in part articulated in the book, as follows: “I will not, if I can help it, shin up either the feathery or the prickly tree. Two widely different convictions press more and more on my mind. One is that the Eternal Vet is even more inexorable and the possible operations even more painful than our severest imaginings can forebode. But the other, that ‘all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well’.
this is floating around the web just now as well:
a grief observed (pdf):
notes/highlights from a grief observed:
Reading A Grief Observed during my own grief made me understand that each experience of grief is unique. There are always certain basic similarities: Lewis mentions the strange feeling of fear, the need- ing to swallow, the forgetfulness.
And C. S. Lewis and I share, too, the fear of the loss of memory.
again – short film based on oliver
Lewis writes that “I have always been able to pray for the dead, and I still do, with some confidence. But when I try to pray for H. [as he calls Joy Davidman in this journal], I halt.” And this feeling I well under- stand. The beloved is so much a part of ourselves that we do not have the perspective of distance. How do we pray for what is part of own heart?
Love does not create and then annihilate. But where Joy Davidman is now, or where my husband is, no priest, no minister, no theologian can put into the limited terms of provable fact. “Don’t talk to me about the consola- tions of religion,” Lewis writes, “or I shall suspect that you do not understand.”
permission to admit our own doubts, our own angers and anguishes, and to know that they are part of the soul’s growth.
I have pictures of my husband in my study, in my bedroom, now, after his death, as I had them around while he was alive, but they are icons, not idols; tiny flashes of reminders, not things in themselves, and, as Lewis says, sometimes a block rather than a help to the memory. “All reality is iconoclastic,” he writes. “The earthly beloved, even in this life, incessantly tri- umphs over your mere idea of her. And you want her to; you want her with all her resistances, all her faults, all her unexpectedness. . . . And this, not an image or memory, is what we are to love still, after she is dead.”
Crosswicks, August 1988
In referring to this book in conversation, one often tends to leave out, either inadvertently or from laziness, the indefinite article at the beginning of the title. This we must not do, for the title com- pletely and thoroughly describes what this book is, and thus expresses very accurately its real value. Anything entitled “Grief Observed” would have to be so general and nonspecific as to be academic in its
There were few people among his peers who could match him in debate or discussion, and those who could almost inevitably found themselves drawn to one another in a small, tight-knit group which became known as “The Inklings,”
I have always wanted the opportunity to explain one small thing that is in this book and which dis- plays a misunderstanding. Jack refers to the fact that if he mentioned Mother, I would always seem to be embarrassed as if he had said something obscene. He did not understand, which was very unusual for him. I was fourteen when Mother died and the product of almost seven years of British Preparatory School indoctrination. The lesson I was most strongly taught throughout that time was that the most shameful thing that could happen to me would be to be reduced to tears in public. British boys don’t cry. But I knew that if Jack talked to me about Mother, I would weep uncontrollably and, worse still, so would he. This was the source of my embarrass- ment. It took me almost thirty years to learn how to cry without feeling ashamed.
At the time that he was writing them, he did not intend that these effusions were to be published, but on reading through them some time later, he felt
she found herself searching for some- thing less posturing and more real. Encountering amid her reading of a wide variety of authors the work of the British writer C. S. Lewis, she became aware that beneath the fragile and very human veneer of the organized churches of the world, there lies a truth so real and so pristine that all of man’s concocted philosophical posings tumble into ruin beside it.
so fitting with the – save africa – narrative – recent ie: bitcoin (bottom page..ethan’s tweet) et al. we concoct that money is a given.. and try to make that concoction efficient for others.. others who haven’t yet gotten as toxified as us. so we decide that their (untoxification) is what needs fixing. when it’s actually us.
the truth is so real.. so pristine.. so underneath.. begs we are quiet enough.. to hear it. already w/in each one of us..
then she died and left him alone in a place that her presence in his life had created for him.
What many of us discover in this outpouring of anguish is that we know exactly what he is talking about. Those of us who have walked this same path, or are walking it as we read this book, find that we are not, after all, as alone as we thought.
he too fell headlong into the vortex of whirling thoughts and feelings and dizzily groped for support and
if it does nothing else for us, at least this book will help us to face our grief, and to “misunderstand a little less completely.”
For further reading, I recommend Jack: C. S. Lewis and His Times by George Sayer (Harper & Row, 1988; Crossway Books) as the best available biogra- phy of C. S. Lewis; Lyle Dorsett’s biography of my mother, And God Came In (Macmillan, 1983); and also, somewhat immodestly perhaps, for an inside viewpoint of our family life, my own book, Lenten Lands (Macmillan, 1988; HarperSanFrancisco, 1994).
Douglas H. Gresham
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restless- ness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.
At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what any- one says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.
There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don’t really mind so much, not so very much, after all. …
On the rebound one passes into tears and pathos. Maudlin tears. I almost prefer the moments of agony. These are at least clean and honest. But the bath of self-pity, the wallow, the loathsome sticky-sweet pleasure of indulging it—that disgusts me.
I soon learned not to talk rot to her unless I did it for the sheer pleasure
And no one ever told me about the laziness of grief. Except at my job—where the machine seems to run on much as usual—I loathe the slightest effort. Not only writing but even reading a letter is too much. Even shaving. What does it matter now whether my cheek is rough or smooth? They say an unhappy man wants distractions—something to take him out of himself. Only as a dog-tired man wants an extra blanket on a cold night; he’d rather lie there shivering than get up and find one. It’s easy to see why the lonely become untidy, finally, dirty and disgusting.
pascal ness.. deep enough
I cannot talk to the children about her. The moment I try, there appears on their faces neither grief, nor love, nor fear, nor pity, but the most fatal of all non-conductors, embarrassment. They look as if I were committing an indecency. They are longing for me to stop. I felt just the same after my own mother’s death when my father mentioned her. I can’t blame them. It’s the way boys are.
Or are the boys *right? What would H. herself think of this terrible little notebook to which I come back and back?
I sometimes think that shame, mere awkward, senseless shame, does as much towards preventing good acts and straightforward happiness as any of our vices can do. And not only in boyhood.
what am I to do? I must have some drug, and reading isn’t a strong enough drug now. By writing it all down (*all?—no: one thought in a hundred) I believe I get a little outside it. That’s how I’d defend it to H. But ten to one she’d see a hole in the defence.
*all – document everything ness…
It isn’t only the boys either. An odd byproduct of my loss is that I’m aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet.
At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate it if they do, and if they don’t.
Her absence is no more emphatic in those places than anywhere else. It’s not local at all. I suppose that if one were forbidden all salt one wouldn’t notice it much more in any one food than in another. Eating in general would be different, every day, at every meal. It is like that. The act of living is different all through. Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.
But no, that is not quite accurate. There is one place where her absence comes locally home to me, and it is a place I can’t avoid. I mean my own body. It had such a different importance while it was the body of H.’s lover. Now it’s like an empty house. But don’t let me deceive myself. This body would become important to me again, and pretty quickly, if I thought there was anything wrong with it.
Cancer, and cancer, and cancer. My mother, my father, my wife. I wonder who is next in the queue.
This is important. One never meets just Cancer, or War, or Unhap- piness (or Happiness). One only meets each hour or moment that comes. All manner of ups and downs. Many bad spots in our best times, many good ones in our worst. One never gets the total impact of what we call ‘the thing itself.’ But we call it wrongly. The thing itself is simply all these ups and downs: the rest is a name or an idea.
here’s a limit to the ‘one flesh.’ You can’t really share someone else’s weakness, or fear or pain. What you feel may be bad. It might conceivably be as bad as what the other felt, though I should distrust anyone who claimed that it was. But it would still be quite different. When I speak of fear, I mean the merely animal fear, the recoil of the organism from its destruction; the smothery feeling; the sense of being a rat in a trap. It can’t be transferred. The mind can sympathize; the body, less. In one way the bodies of lovers can do it least. All their love passages have trained them to have, not identical, but complementary, correlative, even opposite, feelings about one another.
thinking of vinay’s latest – and jaron’s – on words not enough
Time and space and body were the very things that brought us together; the telephone wires by which we communicated. Cut one off, or cut both off simultaneously. Either way, mustn’t the conver- sation stop?
Unless you assume that some other means of communication—utterly different, yet doing the same work—would be immediately substituted.
perhaps we can move toward that.. back to how it was meant to be.. how we were/are meant to be..
And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irre- vocable and irreversible.
sign of life.. can’t reverse.. – Jeremy England
She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?
I have no photograph of her that’s any good. I cannot even see her face distinctly in my imagination. Yet the odd face of some stranger seen in a crowd this morning may come before me in vivid perfection the moment I close my eyes tonight. No doubt, the explanation is simple enough. We have seen the faces of those we know best so variously, from so many angles, in so many lights, with so many expressions—waking, sleeping, laughing, cry- ing, eating, talking, thinking—that all the impressions crowd into our memory together and cancel out into a mere blur. But her voice is still vivid. The remembered voice—that can turn me at any moment to a whimpering child.
Fate (or whatever it is) delights to produce a great capacity and then frustrate it. Beethoven went deaf.
I must think more about H. and less about myself.
.. But it is my own mind that selects and groups them. Already, less than a month after her death, I can feel the slow, insidious beginning of a process that will make the H. I think of into a more and more imaginary woman. Founded on fact, no doubt. …The reality is no longer there to check me, to pull me up short, as the real H. so often did, so unexpectedly, by being so thoroughly herself and not me.
why did you take such trouble to force this creature out of its shell if it is now doomed to crawl back—to be sucked back—into it?
The real shape will be quite hidden in the end. Ten minutes—ten seconds—of the real H. would correct all this. And yet, even if those ten seconds were allowed me, one second later the little flakes would begin to fall again. The rough, sharp, cleansing tang of her other- ness is gone.
(before on your mum becoming a flower bed.. so resonating)
You never know how much you really believe any- thing until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.
Apparently the faith—I thought it faith— which enables me to pray for the other dead has seemed strong only because I have never really cared, not desperately, whether they existed or not. Yet I thought I did.
what does now mean?
Kind people have said to me, ‘She is with God.’ In one sense that is most certain. She is, like God, incomprehensible and unimaginable.
But I find that this question, however important it may be in itself, is not after all very important in relation to grief.
If H. ‘is not,’ then she never was. I mistook a cloud of atoms for a person. There aren’t, and never were, any people. Death only reveals the vacuity that was always there. What we call the living are simply those who have not yet been unmasked. All equally bankrupt, but some not yet declared.
But this must be nonsense; vacuity revealed to whom? Bankruptcy declared to whom? To other boxes of fireworks or clouds of atoms. I will never believe—more strictly I can’t believe—that one set of physical events could be, or make, a mistake about other sets.
No, my real fear is not of materialism. If it were true, we—or what we mistake for ‘we’—could get out, get from under the harrow. An overdose of sleeping pills would do it. I am more afraid that we are really rats in a trap. Or, worse still, rats in a laboratory. Someone said, I believe, ‘God always geom- etrizes.’ Supposing the truth were ‘God always vivisects’?
rat park et al
Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, ‘good’? Doesn’t all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What have we to set against it?
choice. two pete three nine.
if reality at its very root is so mean- ingless to us—or, putting it the other way round, if we are such total imbeciles—what is the point of trying to think either about God or about anything else? This knot comes undone when you try to pull it tight.
trust us. to listen to us. only god sees in heart.. get closer to that.. and where there’s space (approaching the limit gap) – assume good and/or.. that we don’t know all of what is.
And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn’t seem worth starting anything. I can’t settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.
still ness ness
It’s not true that I’m always thinking of H. Work and conversation make that impossible. But the times when I’m not are perhaps my worst. For then, though I have forgotten the reason, there is spread over everything a vague sense of wrongness, of something amiss.
If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came.
Nothing less will shake a man—or at any rate a man like me—out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs.
Because the things I am believing are only a dream, or because I only dream that I believe them?
I was getting from it the only pleasure a man in anguish can get; the pleasure of hitting back.
thinking of un offensable ness
I never even raised the question whether such a return, if it were possible, would be good for her. I want her back as an ingredient in the restoration of my past. Could I have wished her anything worse?
The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness.
true..? or is this just him allowing us choice…
But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inex- orably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless….
What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never even been to a dentist?
Something quite unexpected has happened. It came this morning early. For various reasons, not in themselves at all mysterious, my heart was lighter than it had been for many weeks. For one thing, I suppose I am recovering physically from a good deal of mere exhaustion. And I’d had a very tiring but very healthy twelve hours the day before, and a sounder night’s sleep; and after ten days of low- hung grey skies and motionless warm dampness, the sun was shining and there was a light breeze. And suddenly at the very moment when, so far, I mourned H. least, I remembered her best.
Why has no one told me these things? How easily I might have misjudged another man in the same sit- uation? I might have said, ‘He’s got over it. He’s for- gotten his wife,’ when the truth was, ‘He remembers her better because he has partly got over it.’
I think I am beginning to understand why grief feels like suspense. It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual.
the remarkable thing is that since I stopped bothering about it, she seems to meet me everywhere.
But of course one must take ‘sent to try us’ the right way. God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.
unless there is a nother way
a way to help us listen.
a feeling that one is under a sort of obligation to cherish and foment and prolong one’s unhappiness. I’ve read about that in books, but I never dreamed I should feel it myself. I am sure H. wouldn’t approve of it.
behind it: vanity.. confusion..
passionate grief does not link us with the dead but cuts us off from them. This become clearer and clearer. It is just at those moments when I feel least sorrow—getting into my morning bath is usually
I seem to remember—though I couldn’t quote one at the moment—all sorts of ballads and folk- tales in which the dead tell us that our mourning does them some kind of wrong. …It made the dead far more dead.
Or was that (unconsciously) its purpose? Something very primitive may be at work here. To keep the dead thoroughly dead, to make sure that they won’t come sidling back among the living,..
For me at any rate the programme is plain. I will turn to her as often as possible in gladness. I will even salute her with a laugh. The less I mourn her the nearer I seem to her.
An admirable programme. Unfortunately it can’t be carried out. Tonight all the hells of young grief have opened again; the mad words, the bitter resent- ment, the fluttering in the stomach, the nightmare unreality, the wallowed-in tears. For in grief noth- ing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?
But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?
How often—will it be for always?—how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’?
I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history, and if I don’t stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there’s no reason why I should ever stop. There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.
That is when you wonder whether the valley isn’t a circular trench. But it isn’t. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn’t repeat.
It frightens me to think that a mere going back should even be possible. For this fate would seem to me the worst of all, to reach a state in which my years of love and marriage should appear in retro- spect a charming episode—like a holiday—that had briefly interrupted my interminable life and returned me to normal, unchanged
what about abused people..
It frightens me to think that a mere going back should even be possible. For this fate would seem to me the worst of all, to reach a state in which my years of love and marriage should appear in retro- spect a charming episode—like a holiday—that had briefly interrupted my interminable life and returned me to normal, unchanged
It doesn’t matter that all the photographs of H. are bad. It doesn’t matter—not much—if my mem- ory of her is imperfect. Images, whether on paper or in the mind, are not important for themselves. Merely links. Take a parallel from an infinitely higher sphere.
I need Christ, not something that resembles Him. I want H., not something that is like her. A really good photograph might become in the end a snare, a horror, and an obstacle.
Not my idea of God, but God. Not my idea of H., but H. Yes, and also not my idea of my neighbour, but my neighbour. For don’t we often make this mistake as regards people who are still alive—who are with us in the same room? Talking and acting not to the man himself but to the picture—almost the précis—we’ve made of him in our own minds?
There’s always a card in his hand we didn’t know about.
Am I, for instance, just sidling back to God because I know that if there’s any road to H., it runs through Him? But then of course I know perfectly well that He can’t be used as a road. If you’re approaching Him not as the goal but as a road, not as the end but as a means, you’re not really ap- proaching Him at all. That’s what was really wrong with all those popular pictures of happy reunions ‘on the further shore’; not the simple-minded and very earthly images, but the fact that they make an End of what we can get only as a by-product of the true End.
Lord, are these your real terms? Can I meet H. again only if I learn to love you so much that I don’t care whether I meet her or not?
Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.
And, more than once, that impression which I can’t describe except by saying that it’s like the sound of a chuckle in the darkness. The sense that some shattering and disarming simplicity is the real answer.
one is tempted to say that if you wanted us to behave like the lilies of the field you might have given us an organization more like theirs. But that, I suppose, is just your grand experiment. Or no; not an experiment, for you have no need to find things out. Rather your grand enterprise. To make an organism which is also a spirit; to make that terrible oxymoron, a ‘spiritual animal.’
Much more like getting a telephone call or a wire from her about some practical arrangement. Not that there was any ‘message’—just intelligence and attention. No sense of joy or sorrow. No love even, in our ordinary sense. No un-love. I had never in any mood imagined the dead as being so—well, so business-like. Yet there was an extreme and cheerful intimacy. An intimacy that had not passed through the senses or the emotions at all.
The absence of emotion repelled me. But in this contact (whether real or apparent) it didn’t do any- thing of the sort. One didn’t need emotion. The intimacy was complete—sharply bracing and restor- ative too—without it.
Can that intimacy be love itself—always in this life attended with emotion, not because it is itself an emotion, or needs an attendant emotion, but because our animal souls, our nervous systems, our imaginations, have to respond to it in that way? If so, how many preconceptions I must scrap!
total vinay tweet – on missing the essence
The best is perhaps what we understand least.
you’ve arranged a life for yourself w/no one to touch you
life story w/a purpose – about 1/3 way through:
22 min – i was overwhelmed.. i called it ..joy
joy – the central theme of his whole life.. not the satisfaction of a desire.. but a desire that is more desirable than any satisfaction..
joy was a desire.. a desire is turned not to itself but to an object… i have been wrong in supposing that i had desired for joy itself. all value lay in that which joy was the desiring.. the naked other, unknown, undefined desired.. i did not yet ask.. who is desired.
the very experience of joy he had.. was an arrow that led to the target of belief in god..
innate deep desires do not exist unless they correspond to something that can satisfy them.. if there is hunger there is food, if there is sexual desire there is sex, if there is curiosity there is knowledge… so if desire for this thing beyond this world.. there must be something beyond this world.
24 min – i felt myself being given a free choice… i could open a door or keep it shut..
i had always wanted … not to be interfered with, i had wanted .. to call my soul my own.. i had been far more anxious to avoid suffering than to achieve delight...
27 min – it was through pride that the devil became the devil.. a spiritual cancer.. my besetting sin
28 min – conversion was only to theism.. i knew nothing yet about incarnation.. god just nonhuman…
he knew there was a god..but didn’t have a way to worship him… tried christianity and hinduism… objection to christianity.. was that it was so much like other religions.. then an atheist friend says.. looking at life of christ.. and says.. seems to have happened..
29 min – he was reading ck chesterton.. the everlasting man
a great man knows he is not god and the greater he is the better he knows it
30 min – he begins to read nt in greek – great startling statement.. living among us.. witness to presence of historical human being who embodied spirit of god..
32 min – on long walk w/toliken… till 4 am
33 min – lewis’ imaginative questionings and his imaginative longings came together..
34 min – wind during the walking
35 min – have to sneak past the watchful dragons of self-consciousness… an oblique approach.. ie: if you think about how you’re thinking about it.. you’re no longer thinking about it..
on way to zoo – changed from not believing to believing.. became aware.. that now awake…
the subject has lost all interest to me since i became a christian
36 min – happiness – i had taken myself out of myself..
37 min – more of his happiest hours.. late hour weekly group – inklings… nothing greater than male adult laughter…
38 min – inklings resisting modernism..to belong to a group of real friends… matters more than the opinion of 10 000 outsiders
lewis and toliken.. decided the stories they wanted weren’t written.. they decided to do 1\ time (toliken got it .. lord of the rings) and 2\ space (lewis … trilogy out of the silent planet) – they had tossed a coin
40 min – he lost interest in self.. had nothing to say.. then was asked to preach .. and.. he became great defender of the faith… very selfless
resistance from his colleagues.. they thought theologians should have written on theology… lewis very intelligent.. but his preoccupation was human love… esp ability to love what is not lovely.. agape – absolutely egalitarian… not by what’s deserved… just unconditional..
43 min – in agape – a degree of selflessness. not found in eros… a love … simply because we are all the same..
44 min – lewis didn’t accept freud’s… that morality from experience.. he thought it came from god
then war – security of every day life was gone… 45 min – 4 young refugees come to live w/ him… so started writing .. lion witch wardrobe… about 4 evacuees..
47 min – people hung around radio.. feeling hopeless.. bbc asks lewis to give talks about faith… he didn’t like traveling to london and didn’t like radio.. but did it… so successful… continued.. broadcasts collected in – mere christianity…
then 1939 – wrote scrutape letters and problem of pain – to 1945 – he had given us major apologetics for christianity…
50 min – on it being in ourselves.. the fact that we have a conscious points to a creator..
51 min – moral obligation
52 min – your heart.. the place you’ll learn the most.. written w/in our hearts…
53 min – settled as a bachelor for 40 yrs.. no plans to change until Joy..
54 min – why was joy diff… she was very very smart .. he knew his work…. she was his match – in dialectical obstetrics.. when two people who discover they’re on same secret road.. friendship will easily pass.. into erotic love.
55 min – cancer.. remission.. david and douglas and joy move in… lewis is in 60s.. feasting on love…. cancer returns.. separated by death july 14 1960
57 min – why take me out of my shell if now forced to crawl back..
58 min – a grief observed.. his journey after joy’s death… don’t talk to me about consolation of religion.. or i’ll expect you don’t understand..
59 min – his deep trust in god allows him to give vent to his distrust..
if my house has fallen in one blow.. it must have been a house of cards..
1:00 – when i mourned h least i remembered her best…
1:01 – can i meet h again only if i love you so much i don’t care if i meet her again… his response.. just a gaze.. like peace child.. you don’t understand… how wicked to pull the dead back.. she said.. i am at peace.. she smiled.. but not at me..
1:03 – i would like everything to me in memorial.. i’m not sure that old age isn’t the best part of life…
he dies 3 yrs later… 1963 – death as friend and deliver.. stripping off body that is tormenting you.. what are you afraid of .. has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it w/regret…
do freud (raise fist in defiance.. i will not surrender) and lewis (five myself up) represent conflicting parts of ourselves…
11 & 46 min – i’m not sure god wants us to be happy he wants us to love and be loved.. because he loves us.. he makes us the gift of suffering.. the blows of his chisel make us perfect
46 min – something must drive us out of the nursery into the world of others and that something is suffering..
48 min – not this .. waiting room of a world..
50 min – we read to know we’re not alone
55 min – one can’t say it all.. it would take too long… you never really can tell what’s going on between people.. and people jump to conclusions…
1:07 – how you’ve arranged a life for yourself where no one can touch you
1:09 – that’s the first question i’ve heard you ask that i don’t think you have the answer (what does everyone want from me) – shadowlands
1:11 – why – if you love someone .. you don’t want them to suffer.. … you can’t bear it .. you want to take their suffering onto yourself.. even i feel like that… why doesn’t god..
1:15 – you seem different.. you look at me properly now… i don’t want to lose you.. i don’t want to be lost
1:22 – jack – look what it takes to make me see sense… – joy – do you think i’ve over done it
1:29 – one has to say things.. the moment passes… then you’re alone again…. your father said – we read to know we’re not alone
1:44 – you know we’re there already don’t you
1:46 – you know – i don’t want to be somewhere else anymore. not waiting for anything new to happen.. not looking around next corner/hill.. here now… it’s enough.
that’s your kind of happy isn’t it… it’s not going to last jack.. let’s not spoil it… it doesn’t spoil it.. it makes it real
1:47 – i think it can be better than just managing.. the pain then.. is part of the happiness now.. that’s the deal..
1:58 – i’m so afraid of not seeing her again. .. of suffering being just suffering after all.. no cause.. no purpose.. there’s nothing to say – i know that now. experience is a brutal teacher. but you learn. my god you learn.
2:00 – just not fit for company tonight that’s all..
2:02 – it doesn’t work…
you can’t hold onto things douglas.. you have to let them go
2:05 – we read to know we’re not alone.. do you think that’s so.. i suppose some people would say.. we love to know we’re not alone..
2:06 – why love if we can lose… i have no answers anymore..
the boy chose safety.. the many chooses suffering.. the pain now is part of the happiness then.. that’s the deal
sarah sparks’ album – into the lantern waste – based on chronicles of narnia
ie: new song of trumpkin: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsSPtig3EjI]
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
— “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays