To pass through Nature, beyond her, into the splendor

To pass through Nature, beyond her, into the splendor March 25, 2019


ESO Milky Way
A public domain image from the European Southern Observatory


I’ve been reading in Peter Kreeft,ed.,  The Shadow-Lands of C. S. Lewis: The Man Behind the Movie (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994).  The book contains a selection of writings from the great English academic and apologist, drawn from his many published works.


Here’s a passage that struck me deeply, because I know exactly what Lewis is talking about, having experienced precisely the same powerful intuition many times when viewing certain landscapes and looking at the night sky:


We are to shine as the Sun, we are to be given the Morning Star.  I think I begin to see what it means.  In one way, of course, God has given us the Morning Star already: you can go and enjoy the gift on many fine mornings if you get up early enough.  What more, you may ask, do we want?  Ah, but we want so much more — something the books on aesthetics take little notice of.  But the poets and the mythologies know all about it.  We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough.  We want something else which can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. . . .  At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door.  We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure.  We cannot mingle with the splendours we see.  But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so.  Some day, God willing, we shall get in.  When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.  For you must not think that I am putting forward any heathen fancy of being absorbed into Nature.  Nature is mortal; we shall outlive her.  When all the suns and nebulae have passed away, each one of you will still be alive.  Nature is only the image, the symbol; but it is the symbol Scripture invites me to use.  We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendor which she fitfully reflects.  (83-84)

From “The Weight of Glory”



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