With gratitude to C. S. Lewis, today’s article is not meant to be my pontificating on a particular topic, but a discussion where we work to find commonality and increase knowledge. I cannot stress this enough; I am not the end-all resource on a topic, especially topics I remain utterly ignorant about. Love, friendship, charity, and many more are topics I am learning about and if you are a subject matter expert, feel free to join the conversation, add comments below, and let’s learn together.
As we begin, I will stress one more point; it is a pattern I have learned well. “We teach that we may learn more perfectly.” Thus, while I remain thoroughly ignorant, I will teach what I know, what I have found, and what I suspect so that I may learn more perfectly what I desire. Welcome!
“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” ― C.S. Lewis
As a kid, love was getting beat, having chores heaped up, and being punished as my mother was God’s right-hand person. Her favorite saying was, “That was God punishing you for what you did.” I have had a complicated relationship with God ever since I could remember. Worse, this relationship has been clouded with a misunderstanding about love, chastisement, and punishment. The quote above from C. S. Lewis is one I have been thinking about and continue to try and understand its application.
“What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it.” ― C.S. Lewis
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” ― C.S. Lewis
These two messages on friendship are, to me, very important. But, I have found that the importance varies based upon whether people form around a personality trait or a truth. For example, I choose to be a bibliophile. Books are fundamental to my personality, identity, and methods of looking at the world. But not all books are worthy of being in my library or possessing the same value. When I find people who have read the same book, found similar truths, these people become value-added relationships, and together we move forward. As a foodie, as a baker, as a distinguished eater of good foods, I have met many people. But very few of them joined my society for very long, as their association is built upon food, not truth. Are the distinguishing characteristics understood?
“You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” ― C.S. Lewis
Consider this unique perspective and inherent truth; we are immortal spirits having a mortal experience. But, inherent in this truth from C. S. Lewis is the individual’s choice to be either an immortal horror or everlasting splendor. To some people, I am an immortal horror because of my actions in their society, and to these people, I offer a sincere apology. These people know who they are, know how they were hurt, and if I could, I wish, I could go back in time and change my actions. I wish the opposite were true, that there were people who would consider me an eternal splendor, for that is what I have been working to achieve in human relations for a long time now. Still, I remain an immortal personality, spirit, and individual.
“Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.” ― C.S. Lewis
Or something to be forgiven for… do you think C. S. Lewis intentionally left this part out in this statement? What is more difficult, forgiving someone else, forgiving ourselves, or being forgiven? I do not have this answer, but I find the question intriguing. I am not venturing into religion, religiosity, or preaching religious dogma in asking this question. I am merely asking for consideration of a tool. Forgiveness is a useful tool, for, through forgiveness, we begin the process of forgetting, healing from physical, spiritual, and mental/emotional wounds. Wounds that cannot find closure and healing any other way. But one of the things I learned about injuries is focusing on them, poking them, ripping scabs off, all these things, and more are reopening those wounds, where forgiveness is like a really good bandage that holds both a pain reliever and a healing cream to speed healing. Yet, how often do we refuse this tool, or worse, use this tool for a limited amount, not allowing the entire wound to heal?
“..Friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
I have met some ugly people whose physical features are terrible, but they are beautiful and lovely immortal beings. On the opposite, I have unfortunately met some physically beautiful people who are ravening wolves and immortal horrors, where I curse the day we ever crossed paths. What never ceases to amaze me is that physical beauty and internal splendor or horror are not mutually exclusive or inclusive. The physical is generally the results of choices others have made and reflect the injuries overcome, whereas the internal is all individual choices, compounded over time, into horror or splendor. One of the truths I have found is patience is generally the perfect revelator of another person’s horror or splendor, and rushing the judgment always leads to a need for forgiveness.
“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Do we understand this pattern, as laid out by C. S. Lewis? How often has a good friend promoted solitude, silence, and private thoughts and contemplations within ourselves that have led to meditation and deeper friendships? I married my best friend. Sometimes we fight like brothers, more often though her input has caused this pattern to be unfolded to me in new and interesting ways. Sometimes we disagree on topics and get quite vocal in our discussions. Sometimes we disagree quietly and wait for the other to come around when in reality, we are generally waiting for ourselves to realize and learn. For the better part of almost three decades, we have lived after the manner of learners, and this friendship has only deepened. Even though sometimes frustrations run high, the friendship has value for inspiring this pattern to be effective.
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis
“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” ― C.S. Lewis
Does hardship ever come without pain? I remember my first week or so in US Army Basic Training; the pain in my muscles was incredible, and the torture of physical exercise I thought was going to kill me. Yet, I put on weight (muscle) because of basic training, I learned endurance, and the results have been nothing but beneficial. Thus, I could say, basic training was a megaphone of pain to rouse a deaf person to action, and the resulting life changes have been extraordinary. Do we kick and curse the pain, or do we hold deep to the hope that the pain will lead to something extraordinary? The choice is important, the pain is temporary (always), and the resulting consequences determine our destiny.
“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career. ” ― C.S. Lewis
We conclude with this thought and provide honor to those who are the homemakers! One of the first things I learned as a military dependent is that the military spouses, the homemakers who watch hearth and tend the wounds, are incredible people. As a military servicemember, I learned a new appreciation for my homemaker and the friends and family who supported her in the ultimate career. As a veteran, my appreciation for the role of the ultimate career professional has only deepened and widened. As we go into Thanksgiving celebrations, remember the homemakers, male and female, who, through tending hearth and home, make the job of supporting the homemaker easier and more bearable.
© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images. Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.