I always start with A Grief Portrayed, one of the finest books written about mourning. Lewis lost a long-awaited and spirited spouse to bone cancer, and Shadowland gripped Lewis' last years. I am not a biographer -- and there are already more than five -- but you see the two sides of Lewis' mind already established -- bipedaling the desire to imagine and feel "Joy" (Narnia, Perelandria), and his responsibility to the God of residual dogma (Allegory of Love, Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity)-- before he came to be seduced by a married woman named Joy. And she dies. And he is CS Lewis, left to dry alive, not to die, and unable to return to privately priggish common room hearty bachelor life. He emerges, he does not emerge, he is living the Problem of Pain inside, and in trying to cling to a personal faith in the shadow of a personal insult to the entire continent of his belief, he finds his faith has no hands. He now KNEW that conversion was not real, and was not a means of joy in a real world.
He is left with the quest, living the questions. And here is where the believer and the nonbeliever meet -- in the realm of the imaginery, where everything important takes place, or doesn't. Where shared ritual unfolds, where the layers of allegory story each onion, and the petals of metaphor open up each rose.
Who knows what CS Lewis believed in his final hour, the author of magic Narnia slipping into the final resting Wardrobe. We cannot express enough gratitude for a man who gave us fairy tales and faith, and most comforting for those of us who escape into imagination, a permanent bed of doubt.
- Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable. I am filled with joy. It can't be helped.
Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired. Filled, just filled, with Joy.