Beauty So Radiant

~George MacDonald, The Diary of an Old Soul

“I’ve discovered that health really is catching, like disease,” answered Arthur.

“Yes; sanity has broken out, and is spreading,” said Michael, performing a ~pas seul~ with a thoughtful expression.”

~GK Chesterton, Manalive

— When the real truth – golden and shimmering in its light – appears, it breaks the spell. And then health, goodness and truth are “catching,” as they say. Because it is the deepest desire of all mankind to be whole, to speak true, and to be good. We have simply lived in the dark for so long, that we don’t remember how beautiful the light is. I think Lewis and MacDonald both do an amazing job at breaking the spell we are under, and giving us a breath of a golden air that takes you up and catches your breath. For a moment, if you were truly with them, you have been in the presence of glory – of a beauty so radiant and sweet that it brings tears to the eyes for its very rightness. Chesterton accomplishes this too, but I think perhaps MacDonald and Lewis do it most beautifully. And I think it is what has to be done if we want to show others what reality is like; what real goodness, truth and beauty are, and what God and heaven are. If they could see it, even if only for a moment, then heaven, like beauty and health, is catching. Then the rightness and beauty of goodness would well up in their soul also, and they would know their soul’s true haven when they see it.

“In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth. And yet it is a remarkable thing that such philosophies of Progress or Creative Evolution themselves bear reluctant witness to the truth that our real goal is elsewhere.

~ CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory


Watergirl View All →

Just a little flower, turning her face to find the sun. I don’t always feel his rays on me, but when I do, the warmth and the feeling is simply wonderful, and I never want to be in the shadows again. Isn’t he lovely?

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