Okay. Why is this book with me so much right now and how is it impacting me?
This book, for those who do not know, is a series of letters CS Lewis wrote to an American Lady from (I do not have the book with me) the 1950s till 1963, when he fell asleep in the Lord.
CS Lewis was a committed Christian by then and often gives this woman encouragement, prays for her daily and shares of his current life and spiritual advice as well. I am struck again and again by his patience and love for this woman, and that it was a special friendship, though I sense that he had many friendships. His wife Joy wrote one of the letters to her, when he was esp. busy and this letter is very warm and powerful. Joy had already almost died from cancer and writes identifying with the woman’s suffering and not at all considering hers more than or above her own.
I see a lot of patience, humility and Christian charity in these letters.
When I was young, and CS Lewis was my Dad’s favourite author, I knew he was a professor, and I did not know he had died in ’63 so I thought when I grew up I would have him as my professor; I imagined him to be like the professor uncle in Narnia.
I guess now I would say that not only did he teach me how to think when I was young – I waded through his book Mere Christianity when I was in middle school – but now he is teaching me how to live.
His advice on being meek and patient with oneself, on enduring suffering by taking it literally one day at a time, looking to God in the present hour, has impacted me as he was writing this advice in the midst of personal suffering.
He often writes of Confession and of prayer – and gives a picture of growing old that gives one hope, in the midst of it all.
And it is a series of letters (I am not at the end, rather read this morning over breakfast of his wife’s death; I almost started crying; it was a short 5 line letter, but the ramifications behind it were strong and I could feel it) is honest and not at all pretending that life as a Christian excludes suffering. Instead he writes of how Joy, dying, was stronger than he, and was supporting himself as well, and in some letters reminds this woman that the nightmare (current life) will soon be over…
I feel that in reading this short book I have entered into his life and understand things much more – even that when a wife dies the husband may not only feel her loss but the loss of her support – a double loss at it were. I had never thought of that angle before.
As I was reading, I kept thinking, I need to read this again, when I am older and suffering more than I am now. I do not live (or try not to) in the illusion that youth and good health, or even relative good health, will always be with me, or that life will get easier, though I do keep hoping.
In the end, I feel like I am being given also spiritual counsel that corresponds with my present life in ways that startled and challenged me.
If only I remember this gift and how unworthy I am to receive it…