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Beyond Nature

5 Jun

Nature is only the first sketch.  For you must not think that I’m putting forward any heathen fancy of being absorbed into Nature.  Nature is mortal; we shall out-live her.  When all the suns and nebulae have passed away, each one of you will still be alive.  Nature is only the image, the symbol; but it is the symbol Scripture invites me to use.  We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendor which she fitfully reflects. And in there, and beyond Nature, we shall eat of the tree of life.

C.S. Lewis

“The Weight of Glory” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, Harper Collins, 1976, 43-4.

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Prophetic Poetry

4 Jun

We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.  That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses and nymphs and elves – that, though we cannot, yet these projections can enjoy in themselves that beauty, grace, and power of which Nature is the image. 

That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods.  They talk as if the west wind could really sweep into a human soul; but it can’t.  They tell us that “beauty born of murmuring sound” will pass into a human face; but it won’t.  Or not yet.  For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendor of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy.

C.S. Lewis

“The Weight of Glory” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, Harper Collins, 1976, 42-3.

The Signature of the Soul

12 Jan

This signature on each soul may be a product of heredity and environment, but that only means that heredity and environment are among the instruments whereby God creates a soul. I am considering not how, by why, He makes each soul unique. If He had no use for all these differences, I do not see why He should have created more souls than one. Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you. The mould in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key; and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock. Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance. Or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions. For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you—you, the individual reader…

All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction…. God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it–made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.

C.S. Lewis

The Problem of Pain, HarperOne, 2001, Ch.10

Heaven’s Occupation

26 Dec

Dance and games are frivolous, unimportant down here; for ‘down here’ is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment’s rest from the life we were placed here to live. But in this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Letters to Malcolm, Mariner 2002, 29

God Stoops to Conquer

8 Nov

It is hardly complimentary to God that we should choose him as an alternative to hell. Yet even this He accepts. The creature’s illusion of self-sufficiency must, for the creature’s sake, be shattered. And by trouble, or fear of trouble on earth, by crude fear of eternal flames, God shatters it, unmindful of his glory’s diminution…

I call this “divine humility,” because it’s a poor thing to strike our colours to God when the ship is going down under us, a poor thing to come to him as a last resort, to offer up our own when it is no longer worth keeping. If God were proud, he would hardly have us on such terms. But He is not proud. He stoops to conquer. He would have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to him, and come to him because there is “nothing better” now to be had.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

The Problem of Pain, HarperOne, 2001, 95-6

He is Building a Palace

15 Feb

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

CS Lewis

Mere Christianity, Fontana Books, 1952, 174