C. S. Lewis, best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was also one of the most profound thinkers of twentieth century Christianity. Along with J. R. R. Tolkien, he has inspired millions of people, include all of the authors at Lantern Hollow Press. On Sundays we would like to take a moment to offer up a little Lewis for your consideration.
For this is one of the miracles of love; it gives — to both, but perhaps especially to the woman — a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.
—A Grief Observed
Love–in its truest sense–is not something that obscures our view of reality. Instead, it sharpens it. Through real love, according to Lewis, we see the one we love with crystal clarity…and we decide that we will love them anyway.
To Lewis, as to any really wise person, love is much more than a cascade of fuzzy emotion directed at what amounts to an idol. It is something that really transcends both the lover and the object of his/her affection. To use another of Lewis’s famous quotes, “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” It is a decision to which we choose to adhere far more than it is mere feeling. We want the best for someone we love, even in the times we may not like them very much.
Most of the modern world defines “love” no more deeply than the flurry of emotion that accompanies infatuation. Unfortunately, this does not last and eventually we see through the idealized fantasy version of the person that we have “fallen for” and realize who they really are (who we all are)–a broken, imperfect creature with a tendency towards selfishness and failure. In that moment, if we define love on terms as shallow as infatuation, our “love” for them ceases. We become “disenchanted.”
Shortly after we quit “loving” them, we begin to feel that we need not be obligated to them either. We go in search of a new “love” who will excite in us the same feelings the first one did. Relationships fall apart, marriages end in bitter divorce, and children are often the innocent victims. Society as a whole then suffers as a result of a misunderstanding by the sum of its parts.
The cycle is vicious and predictable. It also can be broken with a simple, infinitely difficult step: We make the decision to practice real love with those to whom we have offered the word in lip-service for far too long.
Click here for the entire run of “Meditations with C. S. Lewis” so far. Interested in more about C. S. Lewis? Check out Passing Through the Shadowlands–an extended project where I am blogging through his life in letters, essays, and books.