As a child, Lewis indeed crept past the “watchful dragons” and helped me to picture the wildness, beauty, and unfathomable goodness of Jesus. As a teen, I found felt a personal bond to Lewis as I recognized my own experience in his description of the stabs of joy that were God’s call to him. In my teens and early twenties I also delved into his apologetic works, but it is his fictional pieces for which I am most thankful.
If for nothing else, I am thankful for how the sheer desirability of God was pictured within them. The Psalmist desires to see the beauty of God in his temple and, in a way much needed by the church kid I was (and am), Lewis showed me that David wasn’t longing for a carpeted multipurpose room, but for a beauty that creation only begins to hint at. There are many instances of this. One of my favorite passages, at the end of The Last Battle, is recounted in Sarah Clarkson’s description of the memorial service in Westminster today. Another, perhaps less familiar passage, comes at the end of Til We Have Faces. At this point, Orual, the book’s narrator encounters the god of her world–a god whom she had doubted and then hated as, it seemed to her, he had taken her sister, Psyche, away–for whom he really is.
The air was growing brighter and brighter about us; as it something had set it on fire. Each breath I drew let into me a new terror, joy, overpowering sweetness. I was pierced through and through with the arrows of it. I was being unmade. I was no one. But that’s little to say; rather, Psyche herself was, in a manner, no one. I loved her as I would once have thought it impossible to love, would have died any death for her. And yet, it was not, not now, she that really counted. Or if she counted (and oh, gloriously she did) it was for another’s sake. The earth and stars and sun, all that was or will be, existed for his sake. And he was coming. The most dreadful, the most beautiful, the only dread and beauty there is, was coming. The pillars on the far side of the pool flushed with his approach. I cast down my eyes.
C.S. Lewis is experiencing the reality that he was so good at whetting our appetites for. I can only echo Sarah Clarkson’s conclusion that
Every aspect of his life was a shout and a song calling us further into the great Reality he apprehended in imagination and described with his powerful reason. God bless C.S. Lewis. I remember him with thanks today. And I’m ready to follow him deep into the mountains and life of God.