I have been blessed to attend a college where there is a C.S. Lewis class. We started off in Narnia, traveled to Venus and back to Earth, fought dragons, read letters by demons, looked into the desires of mortals, are currently traveling through Rohan and the dark East, and will end in a land long ago when the gods still roamed the earth.
Yes, I have geeked out…repeatedly.
The last time I re-read The Lord of the Rings was probably in 2005 or 2006. I re-read Narnia around the time Prince Caspian came out…2008ish. So, about five-six years since a proper reading of LOTR and 3 years of Narnia. I have failed as a fan. I know.
Anyway…*shame* we have read a variety of books by Lewis and Tolkien in this course. I have noticed a theme between these two writers.
Joy is a fleeting glimpse of another world and we are sorrowful when it leaves and spend our lives searching for it…but we do not quite achieve it…at least, not on earth.
Tolkien does not outright state it in his works, but Lewis states in Surprised by Joy (his spiritual autobiography) that joy is a glimpse of God. Professor, I will have to agree with you.
You see, Tolkien and Lewis was both glimpses of joy for me in a dark time in my life (my father, perfectly healthy, was suddenly struck by a genetic heart problem that we never could have guessed). I knew God and had been a Christian since I was five, but I was still growing in how I could relate to God. Lewis and Tolkien gave me those “glimpses of joy” that they talk about extensively in their works. Whether it is the woods of Lothlorien or a simple meal in a cold winter, joy comes in many forms, and we miss it dearly when it is gone.
God put into us a desire for Him, for he is the Ultimate Joy. I catch glimpses of “the Land Across the Sea” when Lewis describes the Emperor’s Lands and Tolkien describes the Undying Lands.
And it HURTS. Narnia pains me as soon as I see Mr. Tummnus with his umbrella, red scarf, and packages. LOTR burns when I pass through Rivendell with Bilbo and the Dwarves. I wouldn’t want it another way. I am grateful to catch glimpses of God.
This mixture of joy and grief is hard to explain to someone who doesn’t experience it the same way you do. (Lewis does it well in his autobiography, but that is partly because I am someone who craves fairy tales.) I remember crying in that awful (painfully, awful) 2010 adaption of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when Reepicheep crosses over into Aslan’s Country. I just flat-out sobbed for fifteen minutes and could not explain to my family what happened for another hour after that. (Poor dears, they put up with so much. They thought it was safe since ROTK Extended Edition was 2004 and The Hobbit isn’t due until 2012 at the earliest.)
You have all had those moments. My mother’s had one when my father, sister, dog, and me fell asleep on her. My roommate’s is when she sees God working in one of her friends. My true moment of joy was when I held my baby sister for the first time, she woke up, didn’t cry, smiled up at me, and fell back asleep. That sunset that is too beautiful to be real. That bit of melody of a song that you never quite realize you knew… It is all a little glimpse of God and his calling out to you.
If you want a better explanation of this, read Surprised by Joy and anything Narnia or LOTR.
Until Our Next Meeting,
The Lost Writer of Rohan