For those of you who haven’t come across any of C.S.Lewis’ short essays, may I introduce you to arguably his best – The Weight of Glory
The essay contains some delicious thinking and expression about ‘glory’ and heaven and touches the beginnings of articulation around those things in us that words can not express. (Romans 8:26).
Having read the essay a few times over the last few years, there is one recurring thought from it that often crops up for me when I feel these deep places in my soul stirred by nature, my wife, family and friends, or by the presence of Christ.
We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God
knows, even that is bounty enough. We
want something else which can hardly be
put into words—to be united with the
beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it
into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become
part of it.
I think of this section in the essay most when I feel that urge to ‘capture’ – ie the response to beauty that we all have to somehow press pause, bottle what we are in awe of in the hope of then being able to sip it very slowly like an aged, 50-year old single malt – to more slowly savour what we faintly taste.
This happens most commonly when, with camera in hand, we try and take a photograph to capture what we see or write a blog article to express what we feel. It is often by the camera or maybe a recording microphone that we want to somehow be united with the beauty that we see, to feel it in a way that we sense we might more completely.
When I see a beautiful sun-set or a cloud formation that makes me think of my heavenly home, I don’t just want to see it – I want to be it. This is what Lewis means when he says, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it – we take the perfect photograph or hit the highest note flawlessly, and they are still imperfect because they don’t satisfy us.
There is a verse in the Bible when the Apostle John writes,
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
A day is coming when,
poetry replaces grammar,
gospel replaces law, longing transforms
obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a
Until then, let us be encouraged that,
A man’s physical hunger does not
prove that that man will get any bread; he
may die of starvation on a raft in the
Atlantic. But surely a man’s hunger does
prove that he comes of a race which repairs
its body by eating and inhabits a world
where eatable substances exist. In the same
way, though I do not believe (I wish I did)
that my desire for Paradise proves that I
shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good
indication that such a thing exists and that
some men will.