“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.” -CS Lewis
Came across this quote of C. S. Lewis’s a while back. Didn’t know what to do with it. I think it had to percolate around in my head. Here’s what I came up with:
It seems like a paradox that he says that all those things are mortal when we have evidence of them all around us, whether present or past. In my puny mind some of those things have been around forever- even if they are so old they are in a state of continual decay. Yet, everything on this earth fashioned by human hands is made from the original substance of the created earth. The scrap of writing, the potsherd that predates everything known, the mummified remains revealing evidence of a culture long gone, the classic novel, the four hundred year old musical score that’s still being played, the work of art that takes one’s breath away, the artificial hip replacement, the medicine that kills the cancer, the technology that sends man out to explore the universe. On the other hand, us humans, we come, we go. Only a few of us make a mark that is indelible on this world; the rest of us make only a slight impression that soon fades into nothing. That’s what my earth-bound human brain sometimes thinks. But I’ve been looking at the creation instead of The Creator.
C. S. Lewis knew better. He was thinking with his eternal Heaven-bound brain. He’s telling us that we are the stuff that matters-US. We are Eternal- we exist- forever. In order to get my head around that thought I had to consider it from the point of view of science – being a nurse has its drawbacks and its perks. Our DNA has evidence of every ancestor all the way back to the beginning; even if we can’t measure it.
The beginning- it all had to start somewhere, somewhen. For those of us who believe the Word, it started with God creating the universe. Just because He could.
When I slow down enough to contemplate it thoroughly- I realize that what God chose to create is eternal. No buildings, no cities, no airplanes, no highways or byways. He chose to create life. Star life, planet life, plant life, animal, bird, bug and fish life; and then He created His Masterpiece- man and woman in His image. My brain came to a screeching halt here! Many would say we are the worst link in all of creation. After all, we can be pretty horrific towards our fellow man and beast and the environment of this world thanks to the fall of Adam and Eve and that crafty serpent.
We are the next generation of the re-generation of “immortal horrors or eternal splendours”. Lewis’ second half of this quote reveals that he knows our human nature well and calls our attention to the fact that we live forever.
Let me say it again- FOREVER.
We love, we hate, we are naughty, we are nice, we are mean, we are kind, we are violent, we are gentle, we rejoice, we despair. We share in other’s lives and how we treat each other reveals what we believe. The Creator of the Universe wants us to understand that we were created to-be-HIS. The universe is forever changing, rearranging and regenerating; yet what He set in motion is life and it is His. And that includes us.
And, while our bodies may crumble to dust; our souls, our spirit, that essence of who we are, US– we live on forever. Either as immortal horrors or as everlasting splendors.
How do we become “everlasting splendours” to each other? God gives us the clues all the way through His word.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Genesis 1:27-28
We are created in His image- there’s splendor for you. Do we see the image of God when we look at our neighbor?
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:1-3
The person who delights in and meditates day and night on His law is like a tree whose leaves do not wither- that’s pretty splendid to me.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6
If goodness and mercy follow me and I have the promise of living in the Lord’s house forever isn’t that splendid? And more so, if we share that promise with others.
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. Psalm 125:1
When we trust in the Lord we have the promise that we will endure forever. That’s everlasting splendor.
“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the LORD. Isaiah 59:21
The Holy Spirit will not leave us and we will speak His words always, as will our children and their decendants – forever. The trace of spiritual DNA- He’s there in our hearts forever. And His words enable us to recognize that He is with us. Ahh, that’s everlasting splendour.
To some C.S. Lewis’ statement may be simplistic and leave out details that, to them, may be crucial and would prove him wrong. However, to me, he has pared down the issue of life, death, heaven and hell to this one true thought: we will live forever, the question is where? And as what- horror or splendour? The choice is ours.