Wednesday, December 6, 2017
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.
We are far too easily pleased.”
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Decades ago C.S. Lewis put words to a feeling that resided deep within me
How could it be, I wondered, that I could imagine wonderful things, the fulfillment of longings which existed in my heart, but have never been experienced on earth? How could it be that I could imagine something if that something in some, way, shape or form did not exist? How could it be that my heart would long for something that did not currently exist, but my not experiencing that thing could not kill my belief that the satisfaction for the longing must exist.
C.S. Lewis gave voice to my feelings when he described his understanding of Joy.
“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
“In a sense the central story of my life is about nothing else… it is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again… I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is.”
Taken a step further I now find that my experience of unfulfilled longings actually give me a growing sense of peace. They are reminders that all will one day be made right, in fact all that is wrong is at this very moment in the process of being made right. I can rest in the reality that the best that can happen can’t not happen, rather than wallowing in what I’m missing. My joy rests in the fact of God’s active redeeming of all things right now. Rather than living under the unbearable pressure of feeling I have to fix everything that’s wrong by myself, I can rest in the knowledge that all God-given longings are in the process of being fulfilled, and glimpses of that fulfillment are available to me anytime I’m willing to lift my eyes above my immediate circumstances. I cannot manufacture those brief tastes of joy, but I can choose to be awake enough so receive them when they come.
Lord, I want to live in the real world, in the reality of what is. ‘What is’ is that You are training me in this world to be awake to You, to what you are doing in this world of ‘not yet’, but a world where the ‘not yet’ is breaking in. Help me Lord, to live more and more like I do on Christmas Eve, in anticipation of Christmas, where is the anticipation is even sweeter than Christmas Day itself. Amen