Tag Archives: C.S. Lewis

More reflections on the lost art of writing…

Old style letterMy Family History class recently compiled a small anthology of our writings. We were giddy with excitement upon seeing the final product entitled “Our Memories.” I was slightly cross-eyed from editing this slim volume, but it was well worth it; the stories are priceless.

A young girl’s passage to America and adulthood, an idyllic Mexican vacation gone wrong, mopping the front porch to help mom, remembering a favorite cat. Now these stories are immortalized, the poems and photos will be enjoyed for many years to come.

In Letters to An American Lady, C.S. Lewis reveals much of his character in his one-sided correspondence with said lady. I do not suppose that he expected these letters to ever be published, yet they were. Remembering that Lewis hated writing, yet he faithfully responded to all who wrote him, one passage becomes all the more poignant. Dated 15 July 1960 it reads: “Dear Mary, I’ve just got your letter of the 12th. Joy{his wife} died on the 13th. I can’t describe the apparent unreality of my life since then. She received absolution and died at peace with God. I will try to write again when I have more command of myself. I’m like a sleep-walker at the moment. God bless. Yours Jack.”

It’s hard to capture the full impact of such a letter written at such a time. Lewis had once described the happy life as “that a man would have almost no mail and never dread the postman’s knock.” In spite of his letter-writing antipathy, C.S. Lewis believed that taking time to encourage other Christians was an act of humility (using one’s talents in such a seemingly insignificant way), and as much a work of the Holy Spirit as producing a book.

Small glimpses into Lewis’ life are illuminated in his letters, things such as his fear of heights, love of cats and dogs, doing his daily chores, and his shared dread of poverty. The posthumous revelation that Lewis had given away 2/3 of his income is all the more impressive when his fear has been disclosed in his letters. So much more could be said on this topic, but suffice it to say that I am convicted by this example of faithfulness by one of my favorite authors, indeed, one of my favorite people.

As I was exhorted last night by a brother to take time and discipline to edify and encourage the brothers and sisters through writing, do I have any acceptable reason not to do so? After all, C.S. Lewis responded faithfully two days after his wife’s death. No excuses!

 

Photo credit: sw_PenOnManuscript_ncp9648.jpg on Morguefile.com

Dear friend

Photo of letters and cards

We write letters. I know that’s a bit strange in this age of e-mail, text messages, Snapchat and the like, but it’s true. Perhaps we are just old-fashioned, passé, and out of date (like the Oxford comma), but there’s something special about a hand-written missive.

People regularly tell us how encouraging those letters are, how they came at just the right moment. Friends who were missionaries in Japan often felt isolated and discouraged. Then a brief note from us arrived to cheer and encourage. Just what we had in mind! At least once a month, letters go out all over the world, to places such as: Liberia, Jordan, New Guinea, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Letter writing has a deep and ancient history. Many biographies are based on extensive records found in correspondences. Here a bit of character is revealed, as well as a glimpse into the times in which they lived. We understand more accurately the person and the context of their lives. We have many great examples. C.S. Lewis answered every letter he received. Hand-written. By him (except on rare occasions of illness or other exigencies.) And he loathed letter writing! This is faithfulness personified. And we are the richer for it as we now have access to his many compilations of letters contained in voluminous correspondence. Considering that some of his letters undoubtedly have been lost, yet we have insights into his thoughts on prayer, children, education, and some merely mundane aspects of life. Treasures at our fingertips, preserved for us and our posterity.

So, not to make too much of a simple act, we connect a bit in our own way to eternity. As our letters go out, we pray that they will arrive at just the right time. In our study of Romans, we are reminded that timing is crucial: “While we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) Amen!

~ Regan Read, Overseer, Church of the Servant King, Gardena
regan@servant-king.org