Thursday, December 2, 2010

Assurance of heaven

Westminster Abbey

After the death of a friend, years ago, I had for some time a most vivid feeling of certainty about his continued life; even his enhanced life. I have begged to be given even one hundredth part of the same assurance about H. [Helen Joy Davidman—Lewis’ wife]. There is no answer. Only the locked door, the iron curtain, the vacuum, absolute zero. ‘Them as asks don’t get.’ I was a fool to ask. For now, even if that assurance came I should distrust it. I should think it a self-hypnosis induced by my own prayers.


C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (London: Faber and Faber, 1961), 9.


  1. I am following this series on the edge of my seat, with my heart in my throat, dying to know how Lewis resolves it! I've read passages of 'A Grief Observed' during my ramblings through Lewis's writing, but never the whole thing. I hate knowing Jack was filled with such grief and doubt at the death of his wife, but then again, it's comforting, too. Almost in the same way we're comforted by Jesus' words on the cross, "Father, why hast thou forsaken me?" It's reassuring to know that even Christ felt abandoned by God, especially looking at it in retrospect and knowing how the story "ends." Ken, I hope you will be able to show us an "ending" in which Lewis is restored to faith and joy. But since I haven't read this book, I don't know!

  2. Margaret, I suspect we're going to discover why the book is titled A Grief Observed rather than A Grief Resolved.

    A review from The Times posted on the back jacket attempts to resolve at least what the book is about: "Its honest dissection is the negation of self-pity... Drawing firmly back from each conventional posture of the mourner, [he] invites not sympathy but co-operation in his attempt to argue out a grief."

    Hang in there, we'll be switching to Voyage of the Dawn Treader next week, and then I'll decide if we come back to A Grief Observed.

  3. This comment by Lewis really grabbed me when I read the book over 20 years ago.

    I think it made such an impression on me because it so often is the case, that the lowest times feel even lower because God does seem to have disappeared. Probably why the poem "Footprints in the Sand" resonates with people so much.