Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

January 22, 2008

And I quote:

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 10:33 pm

“But there are difficulties. ‘Where is she now?’ That is, in what place is she at the present time? If she is not a body, she is in no place at all. And “the present time” is a date or a point in our time series. But unless she is proceeding at sixty seconds per minute along this same timeline that all we living people travel by, what does now mean? If the dead are not in time, or not in our sort of time, is there any clear difference, when we speak of them, between was and is and will be?

“Kind people have said to me, ‘She is with God.’ In one sense that is most certain. She is, like God, most incomprehensible and unimaginable.

“But I find that this question, however important it may be in itself, is not after all very important in relation to grief. Suppose that the earthly lives she and I shared for a few years are in reality only the basis for, or prelude to, or earthly appearance of, two unimaginable, super cosmic, eternal somethings. Those somethings could be pictured as spheres or globes. Where the plane of nature cuts through them – that is, in earthly life – they appear as two circles. Two circles that touched. But those two circles, above all at the point at which they touched, are the very thing I am mourning for, homesick for, famished for. You tell me, ‘she goes on.’ But my heart and body are crying out, come back, come back. But I know that this is impossible. I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the heartbreaking commonplace. On any view whatever, to say ‘she is dead’ is to say ‘all that is gone.’ It is a part of the past. And the past is the past and that is what time means, and time is one more name for death, and Heaven itself is a state where ‘the former things have passed away.’

“Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.

“Unless, of course, you can literally believe all that stuff about family reunions ‘on the further shore’, pictured in entirely earthly terms. But all that is unscriptural, all out of bad hymns and lithographs. There’s not a word of it in the Bible. And it rings false. We know it couldn’t be like that. Reality never repeats. The exact same thing is never taken away and given back. How well the spiritualists bait their hook! ‘Things on this side are not so different after all.’ There are cigars in Heaven. For that is what we should all like. The happy past restored.

“And that, just that, is what I cry out for, with mad, midnight endearments and entreaties spoken into the empty air.

“Others have said, ‘Do not mourn like those that have no hope.’ It astonishes me, the way we are invited to apply to ourselves words so obviously addressed to our betters. What St. Paul says can comfort only those who love God better than the dead, and the dead better than themselves. If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing, that she may still hope to ‘glorify God and enjoy him forever.’ A comfort to the God-aimed eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her daughter on her knees, or bathe her, or tell her a story, or plan for her future, or see her children.”

-C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed pgs 26-30.

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