Tag Archives: c.s. lewis

The present that mirrors all.

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Trains, like showers and other magic, are best taken in solitude. It rocks and rumbles as it starts, then the rumbles start to have a rhythm to them, and then the world is flashing by. You’re looking out the window and seeing beautiful things. Like the sunset sky spreading its wings over rooftops tinted gold, like dark rain glistening on the window, like morning mist bathing the trees as day takes first breath.

It’s not like a painting, where the colours are still. It’s more like looking into someone’s eyes, where the world swirls and pulsates with light. As you cut through the transient sky, there are a few seconds of dissonance where you are looking at the sky and the land but you feel like you are seeing somebody. The gold in the air, the glint in the dark, all appear as someone, someone dear, laughing in your memory. You realise this, and you feel a distinct sense of existential convergence, as though all the beauty and the wonder of the world were at once captured in that one moment, those laughing eyes. In your mind they sparkle, like bells. You’re aching because you’re wrong and you’ve always been wrong, yet you feel you must be right this time, brought back to a moment where you felt nothing in the world mattered more, except that the delight and the kindness in that face should never be lost.

Light and dark pursue each other and turn around a new day and you watch. Even as the train pulls into the station you are sure that somewhere out there, there must be an answer to your fears. You’re still relentlessly feeling your way through the distance with your eyes, trying to distinguish that tenderness that will restore your wonder and fill you with courage. As you search you realise that they were all wrong, who told you to look within yourself. Salvation, like an embrace, can only come from out there.

“You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them… In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night..You, only you, will have stars that can laugh!”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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Some reflections on the body, on matter, or something like that.

This body. This buffoon of a machine that, for all its design, doesn’t always seem to work very well. You want to climb a hill but you have flat feet and you know your knees will hurt. You want to visit that relative but you’re asthmatic, and they have two dogs. Your skin flares up from being in contact with everything from grass to seawater to jeans. We are intelligently designed, poorly produced.

This body. Contains a thousand springs and dies if one be gone. Athletes know it full well. Push yourself too hard for a season and it takes years of rehab to recover. Even then, you won’t exactly be brand new. An internationally renowned speaker who has a stroke and in an instant, all he could do was struggle to whisper. We break far too easily. And once broken, there is no turning back time. In our day, we don’t realize how strange it is that a harp of a thousand strings should keep in tune so long*. We are walking, living, talking miracles.

This body. Your vessel on this perilous journey across time and space. By your every breath and the channels of your senses it connects you to the world you find yourself in. The world and you – you are made of the same matter. Yet why does it sometimes feel like you’ve been secretly slipped into existence?

These bodies, possessed by light. We long, like Milton’s angels with bodies of light, to slip into and through each other and shine brighter. We don’t just want to be with. We want to enter in and be that person we behold. Lewis describes it as a longing for “total interpenetration instead of mere embraces”, a physical union with another that would make us whole. Yet it is our very physical bodies that block it from happening. We are such contradictory creatures. These bodies, possessed by light. Tell me we’ll never get used to it.** I’ll never get used to it.

“…we are composite creatures, rational animals, akin on on side to the angels, on the other to tom-cats. It is a bad thing not to be able to take a joke. Worse, not to take a divine joke; made, at our expense, but also (who doubts it?) for our endless benefit” ~The Four Loves, C.S Lewis

*Creation, William Billings

**Scheherazade, Richard Siken