Monday, March 11, 2013

Lewis on Love

The other night I was tucking my four and a half year old daughter in to bed, a process which is becoming more and more important, I am beginning to see, as Haley gets older.  Right before I gave her a good night kiss, Haley said to me, "Daddy, can I ask you a question about God?"  "Sure" I said hesitatingly...Even pastors get nervous when four year olds ask big questions about God.  Haley asked, "Who made God, I know God made everything in the world, but who made God?  God couldn't make himself, so who made God????"  Little did my daughter know that the question she was asking was not so different than the biggest questions of one of the smartest people ever to live, Aristotle (Aristotle asked, "What is the prime mover of the universe...what is the First Thing...?).  But more to the point, I realized in that instant how much I loved my daughter.  I don't mean just normal love.  I mean LOVE.  I mean PAINFUL LOVE.  I love her so much that it actually hurts sometimes...

This summer I will be taking class for my Doctor of Ministry degree at Oxford and Cambridge University on C.S. Lewis.  So, I am just giving you all a heads up that I am likely to be writing quite a few more blog posts on C.S. Lewis' big ideas and major influence on Christianity.  I actually have to read around 5,000 pages of Lewis for this class, which is sort of funny because Lewis never even wrote 5,000 pages of material (at best, Lewis wrote maybe 3,000 pages).

Lewis would have understood my feeling of PAINFUL LOVE regarding my daughter.  Lewis' main notion about love is that it is always painful.  That love really requires a kind of vulnerability and openness to pain that is quite frankly uncomfortable at times in our lives.  True love hurts.  Lewis said it much better in his book, "The Four Loves" which was published in 1960, just the same year as the death of his beloved wife Joy Gresham, who died far too young from cancer:

"To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.  The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."

As usual, Lewis puts it pretty bluntly.  But it does give us a new definition and understanding of love.  In a time and place and culture where only the saccharine laced, valentine imbued, sugary, pleasant, pleasurable, fun kind of love is lifted up, Lewis gives us a deeper understanding of love, that it sometimes doesn't actually feel very good.

Back to my daughter Haley's question.  "Who made God?"  "I don't really think anyone made God, honey, God made God."  "That doesn't make sense," said Haley.  "I know it doesn't, but sometimes things in life don't make sense."

"I love you, Daddy," said Haley
I....(gulp) LOVE you too...." I said,

All For Now,

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