I’m on a quest to read 52books in 52weeks this year.I just finished ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’ by Neil Postman: a great read about the powerful and denigrating influence television has had on our culture. I heartily agree with his assertions and yet I full well intend to watch “Lost” tonight instead of engaging in other more scholarly exercises. And while I’ve started St.Teresa of Avila, our bookclub book for February, I haven’t gotten very far. I have a serious literary crush on C.S.Lewis, who I and all his close friends affectionately call ‘Jack’. This drove me to jealousy when I saw Stevie reading ‘A Grief Observed’, so I read and finished it today…in one sitting….for the third time. It’s not that long but it is profound. He wrote a series of journal entries after his wife, Joy Davidman, died, and they were later published into this short jewel of a book. You must read it. Here are some of the ideas that will be swirling around in my head after reading this giant of christianity and philosophy:
1. Our ‘realities’ are likely not reality at all. The house of cards we often build and stake our very lives on will likely need to be torn down, over and over again, so that all we are left with is Him. I personally have had my house of cards smashed to smitherenes…..more than once. I have wondered how many ‘epiphanies’ it will take until I finally ‘get it’. And no sooner than the “I need some time for me” HOC’s is torn down, I’m busy building the “My children are now my everything” HOC’s. One may seem less selfish than the other, but either way, He will tear down the idols we make. He is an exacting surgeon in our lives and in His design to make us like Him, he will not shy away from tearing down the temple to rebuild it. He will do what it takes to drive us to foot of the cross….where our suffering can finally and only have its true meaning…..and where the very temple of God Himself is ‘torn down’ for our redemption.
Lewis says, “ 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 might be bribed-might grow tired of his vile sport–might have a temporary fit of mercy. 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.
2. This book cannot be read without the tightening of the chest that accompanies the ‘what if’ question. How would I ever learn to live again if my spouse died? It has a way of making every moment seem like a gift. I dare say that I will never meet someone again who knows me, sharpens me, teaches me, and encourages me to fully use my gifts, as Steve does and has. And it’s not perfect, I know. But I needed the reminder, as I suppose we all do, that our marriages and spouses are a gift from God that should be nurtured and guarded and protected. Our enemy will use anything to separate us…..and sometimes that separation is death. I’m hanging on extra long to that hug tonight.
3. Lewis does the equivalent of asking the ‘why’ question at the beginning of the book. Actually, he seems to be yelling the why question while shaking his fist toward heaven. And although even Jesus asks the why question on the cross (My God, why have you forsake me) the answer is ………….silence. We don’t get the luxury of ‘why’. But the Surgeon knows what we need. And is painstakingly making us over. Our stance toward him should be one of surrender and repentance. Whatever it is that brings us to repentance has been good for us. And shaking our fist at Him doesn’t change one iota of who He is or what He is up to in our lives. The sooner that house of cards falls, the better.
Won’t you join me in 52 in 52? It’ll be fun and keep us reading. And yes, Goodnight Moon counts, if you need it to.