This morning I found this quote by C.S. Lewis. It’s from his book The Problem with Pain:
“The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
The quote rings true in a couple of ways. First, it addresses one source of my current pain: the shattering of the assumption I had of settled happiness: seeing my son’s life unfold and the security that he’d always be there. This carpet of ideas has been ripped from under my feet and I can no longer take for granted the presence of the other people I love. That tomorrow is not guaranteed is no longer a remote theory but a hard fact from which there is no escape. Second, when Lewis talks about the scattered moments of happiness he mentions, of all things, a symphony! I wrote just a couple of days ago about how Beethoven’s 9th has been such a comfort to me. I listened to it again last night.
Lewis also lists landscape as one the scattered joys, and it happens that this weekend we will be travelling to the Virginia mountains for just that joy. I am looking forward to our first road trip since Jesse’s death. I know we will all be remembering how he was with us on so many of our trips to the mountains and that will be painful, but it cannot be avoided. But I think the pain will have a good portion of sweetness in it. All of our mountain trip memories are happy ones.