C. S. Lewis gave voice to so much of human experience in ways that help us understand ourselves and one another.
His book, Mere Christianity, began as a series of radio talks that were later compiled, published and sold millions and millions of copies.
I think Lewis managed to use a conversational, inviting voice in all his works.
When I read them I feel like I’m chatting with a friend (granted, an extremely erudite friend!). He and I are discussing a thing, reasoning through it together.
He’s not teaching me something, he’s guiding me to learn it for myself.
When he experienced the loss of his beloved wife, this giant of the faith struggled like all us mortals. His grief journal was eventually published as the book, A Grief Observed, and has helped many of us who sorrow describe our feelings and find our way.
I particularly love this quote:
I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process … 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 … Not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago.
~C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
Lewis understood that grief was not a state which could be changed like ice to water through the application of heat.
There is no quick fix for a broken heart. No remedy for missing someone you love.
Instead, grief is a process.
It’s a lifelong journey of remaking a relationship that can no longer depend on physical presence and new memories. It circles back again and again, asking the same questions, sometimes finding new answers but often having to settle for the old ones.
It’s almost five years since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven and while I have forged new paths in that time, much of my travel has been over well-worn ruts that bring me to the same watering holes.
I’m often surprised that life after loss is not linear at all.
I do feel (as I’ve shared before) that the circles progress ever upward.
I’m not standing still.
But I’m not free to escape the valley.