Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Jack


15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”


His birth certificate read “Clive Staples Lewis,” but he preferred being called “Jack.” He was born 106 years ago yesterday and died in 1963.

There are few scholars or writers who have had such a profound impact on twentieth century Christianity. From his early years as an agnostic he plunged into his academic work and became, as he once said, “the most dejected and reluctant convert in England.”

This in no way meant that he did not fully embrace the Christian faith. His work bears out his deep dedication. From “The Screwtape Letters” to “Mere Christianity”, from “The Chronicles of Narnia” to “A Grief Observed,” Jack defended and advanced the scholarship of the Christian faith with great passion, wit, and brilliance, so much so that he even became fondly known in many circles as the “apostle to the skeptics.”

There’s much that could be said about his scholarship. But I think that nothing exemplifies the man “Jack” better than his common touch, his humanity. The following poem, I believe, best showcases that touch, that inner desire for the ordinary, yet beautiful life:

By
C.S. Lewis

IN PRAISE OF SOLID PEOPLE


Thank God there are solid folk
Who water flowers and roll the lawn,
And sit and sew and talk and smoke,
And snore all through the summer dawn

Who pass untroubled nights and days
Full-fed and sleepily content,
Rejoicing in each other’s praise,
Respectable and innocent

Who feel the things that all men feel,
And think in well-worn grooves of thought,
Whose honest spirits never reel
Before man’s misery, overwrought

Yet not unfaithful nor unkind,
With work-day virtues surely staid,
Theirs is the sane and humble mind,
Of full affections undismayed

O happy people! I have seen
No verse yet written in your praise,
And, truth to tell, time has been
I would have scorned your easy ways

But now thro’ weariness and strife
I learn your worthiness indeed,
The world is better for such life
As stout, suburban people lead

Too often I have sat alone
When the wet night falls heavily,
And fretting winds around me moan,
And homeless longing vexes me

For lore that I shall never know,
And visions none can hope to see,
Till brooding works upon me so
A childish fear steals over me

I look around the empty room,
The clock still ticking in its place,
And all else silent as the tomb,
Till suddenly, I think, a face

Grows from the darkness just beside,
I turn, and lo! It fades away,
And soon another phantom tide
Of shifting dreams begins to play

And dusky galleys past me sail,
Full freighted on a faerie sea;
I hear the silken merchants hail
Across the ringing waves to me

-Then suddenly, again, the room,
Familiar books about me piled,
And I alone amid the gloom,
By one more mocking dream beguiled

And still no nearer to the Light,
And still no further from myself,
Alone and lost in clinging night
-(The clock’s still ticking on the shelf).

Then do I envy solid folk
Who sit of evenings by the fire,
After their work and doze and smoke,
And are not fretted by desire.

3 comments:

Mattithyahu said...

Hello, I found your blog through Blog Explosion. Very nice post. Lewis always amazes me with the amout of knowledge and eloquence he spoke and wrote with. One of my favorites is "The Great Divorce" and Narnia is always a classic. Good stuff here, thanks!

Matt

Tom Reindl said...

CS Lewis is one of my favorite authors,but I had never read that poem. Wonderful.

Jexebel said...

It sounds silly, but Narnia is what made me lose faith in religion. I loved the stories, but was shocked when I was about 8 to be told that they were alligories. I felt cheated, and pitched Catholic services along with my books about lions.