Monday, August 31, 2015

A Grief Observed - C. S. Lewis

This memoir of an experience of grief has been on my TBR list for a long time.  I think I'd postponed looking for it because I thought it would be long and heavy reading.  To my surprise, its less than 100 pages.  It 's essentially Lewis' journals written after the death of his wife of less than 5 years from cancer.  They had married when he was well into his forties,  She was divorced, with two boys.  She brought them to England to be near Lewis who she had corresponded with from America and become a close friend and admirer.

C.S. Lewis was a well-known Christian apologetic, someone who defends Christian beliefs with reason and logic.

My edition had an introduction by Madeleine L'Engle, author of "A Wrinkle in Time" and "Two Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage", and a fellow Christian writer of Lewis's. She was critical of the book which put me off initially - if you read it, skip her introduction until after.

The book is a journey through grief and loss and coming to terms with a crisis of faith.  His "observations" are universal.
"This is important.  One never meets just Cancer, or War, or Unhappiness (or Happiness).  One only meets each hour or moment that comes."
A good part of the book is about him questioning his faith in God and questioning his own doubt.
"Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language.  What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'?
"From a rational point of view what new factor has H.'s [his wife's] death introduced into the problem of the universe?  What grounds has it given me for doubting all that I believe?  ...If my house has collapsed at one blow, that is because it was a house of cards.  The faith which 'took these things into acocunt' was not faith but imagination".
In the end, he recognizes he has been on a journey and his faith has been with him all along.
"My jottings show something of the process[toward getting through grief] but not so much as I 'd hoped. the warming of a room or the coming of daylight...when you first notice them they have already been going on for some time."
One quirky note, one of his friends actually gave him a copy of the book to read (it had been published under a pseudonym).

Published: 1961  Read: August 2015  Genre: Memoir

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