Longing for the Everlasting
Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1955), 238.
I believe (if the thing were at all worth recording) that the old stab, the old bittersweet, has come to me as often and as sharply since my conversion as at any time of my life whatever. But I now know that the experience, considered as a state of my own mind, had never had the kind of importance I once gave it. It was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer. While that other was in doubt, the pointer naturally loomed large in my thoughts. When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter. He who first sees it cries, "Look!" The whole party gathers round and stares. But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that set them up. But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver and their lettering of gold.
C.S. Lewis on Immanence said...
Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1955), 181.
Up till now each visitation of Joy had left the common world momentarily a desert. "The first touch of the earth went nigh to kill." Even when real clouds or trees had been the material of the vision, they had been so only by reminding me of another world; and I did not like the return to ours. But now I saw the bright shadow coming out of the book into the real world and resting there, transforming all common things and yet itself unchanged. Or, more accurately, I saw the common things drawn into the bright shadow. unde hoc mihi? In the depth of my disgraces, in the then invincible ignorance of my intellect, all this was given me without asking, even without consent. That night my imagination was, in a certain sense, baptized; the rest of me, not unnaturally, took longer.
C.S. Lewis on Immanence said...
Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1955), 180.
For the first time the song of the sirens sounded like the voice of my mother or my nurse. Here were old wives' tales; there was nothing to be proud of in enjoying them. It was as though the voice of which had called to me from the world's end were now speaking at my side. It was with me in the room, or in my own body, or behind me. If it had once eluded me by its distance, it now eluded me by proximity — something too near to see, too plain to be understood, on this side of knowledge. It seemed to have been always with me; if I could ever have turned my head quick enough I should have seized it. Now for the first time I felt that it was out of reach not because of something I could not do but because of something I could not stop doing. If I could only leave off, let go, unmake myself, it would be there.
Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1955), 168.
I smuggled in the assumption that what I wanted was a "thrill," a state of my own mind. And there lies the deadly error. Only when your whole attention and desire are fixed on something else — whether a distant mountain, or the past, or the gods of Asgard — does the "thrill" arise. It is a byproduct. Its very existence presupposes that you desire not it but something other and outer. If by any perverse askesis [asceticism or discipline] or the use of any drug it could be produced from within, it would at once be seen to be of no value. For take away the object, and what, after all, would be left? A whirl of images, a fluttering sensation in the diaphragm, a momentary abstraction. And who could want that? This, I say, is the first and deadly error, which appears on every level of life and is equally deadly on all, turning religion into a self-caressing luxury and love into auto-eroticism.
C.S. Lewis on Desire said...
Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1955), 166.
That walk I now remembered. It seemed to me that I had tasted heaven then. If only such a moment could return! But what I never realized was that it had returned; that the remembering of that walk had also been desire, and only possession in so far as that kind of desire is itself desirable, is the fullest possession we can know on earth; or rather, because the very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting. There, to have is to want and to want is to have. Thus the very moment when I longed to be so stabbed again, was itself again such a stabbing.
C.S. Lewis on Joy or Sehnsucht said...
Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1955), 18.
It is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from happiness and from Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again. Apart from that, and considered only in its quality, it might almost equally well be called a particular kind of unhappiness or grief. But then it is a kind we want. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the wold. But then Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is.
Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1955), 17.
But then, and quite different from such pleasures, and like a voice from far more distant regions, there came a moment when I idly turned the pages of the book and found the unrhymed translation of Tegner's Drapa and read "I heard a voice that cried, Balder the beautiful, is dead, is dead." I knew nothing about Balder but instantly I was uplifted into huge regions of northern sky, I desired with almost sickening intensity something never to be described (except that it is cold, spacious, severe, pale, and remote) and then, as in the other examples, found myself at the very same moment already falling out of that desire and wishing I were back in it.
To Be Near Unto God, pp. 671-675
Not twenty centuries and more have been able to darken the golden glow of the immortal song that has come to us in the forty-second Psalm... in which the homesickness of our human heart cries after the Source of our life. What here grips so mightily is the ardent fervor that breathes throughout this whole psalm, the passionate outpouring of soul... In this psalm the heart itself pushes and drives. It is not from without but from the inner chamber of the heart that the homesickness after the living god irresistibly wells upward... "My soul pants, yea, thirsts after the living God." Not after Creed regarding God, not after an idea of God, not after a remembrance of God, not after a Divine Majesty, that, far removed from the soul, stands over against it as a God in words or in phrases, but after God Himself, after God in His holy outpouring of strength and grace, after God Who is alive, Who... in holy exhibition of love reveals Himself to you and in you as the living God. You feel that all learning falls away, all dogma, all formulas, everything that is external and abstract, everything that exhausts itself in words... It is not your idea, not your understanding, not your thinking, not your reasoning, not even your profession of faith, that here can quench the thirst. The home-sickness goes out after God Himself... it is not the name of God but God Himself whom your soul desires and cannot do without.