Reading A Severe Mercy in the bath this evening, I came to this bit about time:
"I saw with immense clarity that we had always been harried by time. All our dreams back there in Glenmerle had come true: the schooner Grey Goose under the wind, the far islands of Hawaii in the dark-blue rolling Pacific, the spires of Oxford. But all the fulfillments were somehow, it seemed to me, incomplete, temporary, hurried. We wished to know, to savor, to sink in-into the heart of the experience - to possess it wholly. But there was never enough time; something still eluded us."
"We shall come back, we said, and find it... But there wasn't enough time to go back, way leading onto way. And if we had gone back, there wouldn't have been time enough then, either, for ahead there would be a terminus. Always."
"Time is our natural environment. We live in it as we live in the air we breathe. And we love the air - who has not taken deep breaths of pure, fresh country air, just for the pleasure of it? How strange that we cannot love time. It spoils our loveliest moments. Nothing quite comes up to expectations because of it."
"C.S. Lewis, in his second letter to me at Oxford, asked how it was that I, as a product of a materialistic universe, was not at home there. 'Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did. would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures?' Then, if we complain of time and take such joy in the seemingly timeless moment, what does that suggest?"
"... it may appear as a powerful proof, or at least a powerful suggestion, that eternity exists and is our home."Now, sure, this is lovely - and I've always appreciated the logic behind C.S. Lewis' statement. But, with recent changes in my ideas, this has all taken on a new significance.
My picture of Heaven will always - like everything else in my life, apparently - be tinted by Narnia. The final chapter of The Last Battle, "Goodbye to Shadowlands" (Oh dear, forgotten how to punctuate chapters. Italics?), gave me chills as a kid. Still does. I strongly recommend giving it a read, if you already haven't. You'll never have so much as a passing thought of harps again.
Lucy said, "We're so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often."
"No fear of that," said Aslan. "Have you not guessed?"
Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.
"There was a railway accident," said Aslan softly. "Your father and mother and all of you are - as you used to call it in the Shadowlands- dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."
And as he spoke he no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.I'm very quote-happy tonight. But, anyways, I have no problems imagining how lovely Heaven will be. But, as a silly kid, I always imagined that Heaven, the promise of eternal life, meant less to me. Less in the sense that it wouldn't be the main thing that drew me to God if I weren't a Christian already. Meaning, knowing there's a reason and explanation for existence, meant more to me. Heaven was like a very, very nice perk in an already great package. I'm sure half of this was due to simple lack of capacity - the scope of eternity is a bit too much for me to grasp - the temporal concerns of my life on earth are a bit easier to figure out. But, with all this thinking about idleness and time, the eternal stuff suddenly means more.
The quotes from A Severe Mercy, above, are a very nice (drat, what's the word? Explanation? No. Something like it though.) picture of unformed, half-recognized ideas I've recently been mulling over. Even as I imagined my own ideal life, debt-free, in a Wind in the Willows house, or saw future pictures of myself lazily reading in a lovely wooden canoe, or even gliding along in a shining Grey Goose with a "comrade-lover" by my side, I knew somehow, in the back of my mind, that the manifestations of the dreams would never be as good as the dreams. I can't escape from time. And, this evening, at this time in my life, the weight of it has never thundered down on me with such force. I began thinking; all the true idlers i've been reading about - and according to Sheldon Vanauken, many poets, too - seem desperate to be free, wishing for more time to live. "O for an age so sheltered from annoy/That I may never know the change of the moons".
But, in this world, there will never be enough time.
It's slightly pathetic that I never put this together until now.
Do you see why, suddenly, heaven has a new significance for me? Talk about timeless! Never having to run off to this, no going home in a week, no slogging back to workplace drudgery, no ending. The ultimate idlers' paradise, literally!
This is another post I ought to delete, but shan't.
P.S. But no way does this mean my idling visions for my little puff of life are a waste of time. Why not make the best of it? It may be short, but this life is still important.