No Ordinary People

7 Jun

It may be asked what practical use there is in the speculations which I have been indulging.  I can think of at least one such use.  It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor.  The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid upon my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. 

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in nightmares.  All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.  It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. 

There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.  But it is immortals that we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.  This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.  We must play.  But our merriment must be of that kind which exists between people who have, from the outset, taking each other seriously…
Your Christian neighbor (is) holy in almost the same way, for in him… the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself is truly hidden.

C.S. Lewis

“The Weight of Glory” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, Harper Collins, 1976, 45-6.

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