Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Grief Observed

I'm reading it right now. I have these spurts of Lewis that are always delightful, thought-provoking, and in the end pretty exhausting. He's so often spot on and this book is no different. He describes, or tries to describe his sorrow over the death of his wife. (His step-son, in the introduction makes the point that it is a grief observed...a specific one and not supposed to be a guide for any sorrow.) In the end, however, he realizes that Sorrow "turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history." The book relates this history--the history of the sudden sense of loss, a futile turn to God and the hopelessness of ever seeing the beloved again...a feeling that she no longer exists.

As he says, being a Christian, it was natural for him to think to turn to God when he was in trouble and wanted something...really....a lot. However, he felt like whenever he turned to God, the door slammed in his face. However, he later reflects on this and realizes how easy it is when we really want something, it is WE who are the obstacle: When we try to rush to get in the door, we often slam it shut instead.

He describes how he felt like his wife no longer existed, how no matter where he went, she would not be there. He wanted her back. But he then realized that we construct fictional, or at least distorted pictures of those we love when they are gone. Then he thought about whether it was better for HER to come back to him, and realized that it probably wasn't.

In the last chapter, he realizes that he started with himself, then from then talked about her and then about God. In his mind the wrong order of things. But then comes one of my favorite quotes, and one that shows the true nature of marriage, describing her as both a shining sword and a many walled garden he said:

Thus up from the garden to the Gardener, from the sword to the Smith. To the life-giving Life and the Beauty that makes beautiful.

Throughout the book, he basically embraces all the false feeling-based errors of the modern age and rejects them on experiential and philosophical grounds. It's interesting that he turns to modern errors because it demonstrates a tendency that he himself describes in his introduction to the writings of St. Athanasius. In every age, people are affected by the same errors and the same truths and it requires us to look beyond our era, in fact, out of time and into the eternal to discover these errors and learn the full truth. Each era has its own set of errors and truths that it tends to embrace, and to examine them all is to come closer to that eternal Truth that transcends all eras.

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