Friday, April 15, 2011

C.S. Lewis: The Sacramental and Transposed Life, Part II

On March 19, 1955 Lewis writes to Mary Van Deusen:

I feel strongly, with you, that there was something more than a physical pleasure in those youthful activities. [Since we are only reading Lewis’s letter to Van Deusen we don’t know what she wrote in her letter to him. We are listening to one end of a phone conversation.] Even now, at my age, do we often have a purely physical pleasure? Well, perhaps a few of the more hopelessly prosaic ones: say, scratching or getting one’s shoes off when one’s feet are tired. I’m sure my meals are not a purely physical pleasure. All the associations of every other time one has had the same food (every rasher of bacon is now 56 years thick with me) come in: and with things like Bread, Wine, Honey, Apples, there are all the echoes of myth, fairy-tale, poetry, & scripture so that the physical pleasure is also imaginative and even spiritual. Every meal can be a kind of lower sacrament. ‘Devastating gratitude’ is a good phrase: but my own experience is rather ‘devastating desire’ – desire for that-of-which-the-present-joy-is-a-reminder. All my life nature and art have been reminding me of something I’ve never seen: saying ‘Look! What does this – and this – remind you of?’

I am so glad that you are finding (as I do) that life, far from getting dull and empty as one grows older, opens out. It is like being in a house where one keeps on discovering new rooms.

 Lewis writes of apples and honey and bread and wine and fairy-tales, poetry and scripture. Echoes of higher things. Sacraments all…will we receive them? Our Good Shepherd spreads a Table before us at work, in the neighborhood, with our families, in the Body of Christ…but do our tongues taste, do our eyes see, do our noses smell the fragrance of His Presence? The Scriptures are replete with birds and lambs and lions and bears and mountains and brooks and clouds and rain and honey and wine and bread and trees and flowers and shrubs and herbs; for God mediates His grace and glory and Word through Creation; but do we partake of the Table He has spread for us?

The Table of the Lamb is everywhere; it is in good times and bad; it is spread with those who love us and with those who reject us; everywhere Christ breaks the bread and serves the wine; everywhere and in all things Jesus Christ bids us partake of Him; He bids us join in the koinonia of the Trinity…hand in hand with our brothers and sisters.

Today – will we approach His Table of life in humility and thankfulness and reverence…receiving from His hand the Bread of life that we might be partakers of His Divine nature…so that we in turn might feed those around us?

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