Thursday, July 09, 2009

C. S. Lewis: A Grief Observed

C. S. Lewis penned these words during a time of deep grief after the death of his beloved wife. They help me, in my confusion, to see purpose in my suffering and grief. When someone you love is taken young and suddenly, there is no easy way to understand. You are left to piece it together the best you can and try to find meaning in the loss. I have asked "Why?" a thousand times. Maybe this is part of the answer. Perhaps it is about fixing broken places in me. I hope it works, because Joey's death has left me more broken than I have ever been.

"The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man night be bribed-might grow tired of this vile sport-might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren't. Either way, we're for it. What do people mean when they say, "I am not afraid of God because I know He is good"? Have they never even been to a dentist?"


Janis said...

Hi Karen,
I was just thinking about you yesterday and wondering if you had read this book. I'm so glad it has been a help to you. When I re-read it I was reminded how Lewis can reach to the core of feelings and sort them out.
Love you, miss you,

Maisha said...

Wow karen, that is really good! Thank you for sharing your heart. Our God is wild and unpredictable and I love Him but fear Him too.
Praying for you with the house situation. I love you all very much. p.s. That tubing looked fun!

Liza's Eyeview said...

C.S. Lewis speaks with such wisdom, such clarity, with so much heart.... and speaking from his own experience of grief makes it even more compelling and convincing. Truth that only those who are experiencing (or have experienced) the same situation would fully understand.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point and I've never heard it explained that way.

My husband has to go to the dentist tomorrow. He can't even put his teeth together. He's not excited about going and dreads it dreadfully. But the dentist will be appreciated once he has performed his services. To not have the dentist would mean suffering forever. To hope the dentist never exist would be ignorant. And to deny he is--would keep us from moving forward.

So I understand this simple but complicated example. What I can never understand is what it feels like to have your kind of ache.

I do find my troubles seem trivial and it makes me cherish life more to come here and read the wisdom of your writing. Thank you for being willing to share.

Anonymous said...

Karen, It has been awhile since you
opened your heart. I know that it
helps to speak of sadness as much as to speak of happiness. I would rather have the latter but that is not to be. I want to go get the book, nothing better then a good read.
Love and prayers Sharon

Josh Spencer said...

Super good quote by Lewis. I don't think I ever read that book by him; now I'll add it to my list.

And I understand. Old life gone. Building a new life after a shattering is a lengthy, arduous process.

Nicole said...

Hi - I stumbled across your blog looking for this quote by C.S. Lewis. I looked at your son's memorial booklet and just wanted to tell you how blessed I was by looking at it - especially his poem. Thank you for sharing that with the world.

Anonymous said...

Aloha Karen,
I found your blog while researching info on grief.
I am a child neurologist and treat mainly children with epilepsy in my practice on the mainland. I am very sorry for the loss of your son, there is so much yet to be done in research regarding epilepsy therapy.
I recently lost my wife to breast cancer after a prolonged illness. Our favorite place in the world has always been Maui, our favorite restaurant Mama's Fish House, and our favorite sail on the Scotch Mist. When I retire in a few years I hope to move to West Maui, so many wonderful trips and memories-Darrell