Hello out there, and thanks for dropping in – its lonely here without you. I just finished reading C.S. Lewis’s magnificent book, The Problem of Pain and I want to give it a big plug; and yes, it does have some connection with agates, or at least with this website. Besides reproaching myself for not having gotten around to that little gem years, decades, earlier, I was pleased to see the remarkably astute Mr. Lewis expound upon a point I have made on this website (don’t worry, I would never be so gauche as to boast that ‘great minds think alike’). In Speaking of Agates and God…and Man, I attempted to draw some rough analogies between agates and mankind. One of those analogies is that every agate and every human being are complex, and unique creations, and that just as we can pick out one small pebble on a gravelly shore and find the unique beauty in it, God, with infinite time and patience can find the uniqueness and beauty in each of us. In either case, man and agate, the uniqueness and beauty are the products of experience – growth, change, emptying and filling, brokenness, healing.
Among many other thoughtful and eloquent observations in The Problem of Pain, Lewis adds great depth to the concept of the uniqueness of the human ‘soul’. Soul being the Biblical term for the totality of the human being – body, mind, spirit, and the sum of his experiences. My opinions on the subject you can find in Speaking of, but I am going to post below a few of Mr. Lewis’s that I find particularly apropos.
Lewis sets the stage for his musings on individuality as a God given aspect of human nature that will follow us (minus our sin nature) into the Blessed Realm by recounting experiences we have all had, and then proceeds to expound upon their significance.
“Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then you turned toward the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw – but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realize that the landscape means something totally different to him…Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain in the best) of that something you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it – tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest – if there ever became an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself – you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here beyond all doubt is the thing I was made for’. We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.
This signature on each soul may be a product of heredity and environment, but that only means that heredity and environment are among the instruments whereby God creates a soul. I am considering not how, but why, He makes each soul unique. If He had no use for all these differences, I do not see why He should have created more souls than one. But be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him: and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you. The mould in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key: and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock. Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions. For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you – …
Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him and not another’s. All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction. …God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it – made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.
It is from this point of view that we can understand hell in its aspect of privation. All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will awake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach and you have lost it forever.”
The photo? Oh, just a pretty agate I found in a bucket of scraps at a friend’s place. Ever seen one exactly like it?