I'm so enjoying so much writing about C. S. Lewis. It turns out one of his less-successful books, written after his beloved wife had died, and near the end of his own life, was Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. In that book, the last book he completed, might have been less successful because if asks more questions than it answers. Hard questions, questions that surely arose through the ups and downs of Joy's illness. An example, one that surely echoes his own anguish, "As for the last dereliction of all, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsake me?', how can we understand or endure it? Is it that God Himself cannot be Man unless God seems to vanish at his greatest need? And if so, why?" A sobering and difficult question, one that surely connects to the depths of lament found in Psalms. And yet, he was also able to envision heaven in rich and compelling terms, as in his sermon 'The Weight of Glory" where he writes that we 'must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption." Here we find the kind of deeply loving, deeply engaged and respectful sense he had of what it might mean to say, 'Joy is the serious business of heaven.' A lovely sentiment, and much more substantial than what, as Charles Taylor has suggested in A Secular Age, has come to serve as the common vision of heaven--the endless extension of our earthly preferences, be it perpetually green fairways or reunification with our beloved pets. No, Lewis sees that the true vision of heaven is something like what our Sunday lesson from Revelation suggests: 7:15 For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. 7:16 They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; 7:17 for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Anon and +peace,