So, most of you will know who C.S. Lewis is. He’s an author and theologian and one of the greatest Christian devotional writers of 20th century. Rollins takes one of Lewis’ later in life writings – it is actually his first and only short story, which didn’t get published until 20 years after his death – a short story called Light.
I’ll summarize it with just a few short snippets. Basically it revolves around a young boy who was born blind, but winds up having surgery to restore his sight. The boy’s name is Robin and his mother is Anne. That’s between whom this dialogue takes place.
Robin says, “The last thing I thought of before the operation was Light. Wondering what it would be like.”
“But of course, darling. That’s only natural.” (Anne)
“Then – then” (his voice shook a little) “why don’t I – I mean, where is the light?…Is there light in this room at present?”
“Of course there is. Robin, do -”
“Then where is it?”
“Why, all round us.”
“Can you see it?”
“Yes. But really, Robin dear -”
“Then why can’t I??!!”
“But, Robin, you can. You can see me, can’t you?, and the mantelpiece, and the table, and -”
“That’s what drives me mad. That’s the sort of thing you all say. I want to see light. Are you light? Is the mantelpiece light? Is light only another name for all the other things?
“Oh, I see what you mean. You’re asking about the light. That’s it there, hanging from the ceiling with the pink shade.”
“Then why did you tell me the light was all round us?”
This is where I’d like to stop the dialogue and pose my thoughts. Can’t you just feel the frustration of the boy? It takes me all the way back to the very first blog where I summed up week 1 talking about the object and the obstacle. The boy was blind (obstacle) and wanted to see the light (object), which he’d heard all about. But when he gained his sight he only found disappointment because the light was not what he was expecting.
It also reminds me of all the blogs about language and how we try to explain what God is with finite language and understanding. In the story the mother tells Robin that light is all around them. We say the same thing about God, yes? But the boy doesn’t understand. He can’t see what light is itself, but he can see things because of the light. I’d liken that to God. We can’t really see God all around us, but we can see things because of God. Or better yet, we can see God at work because of the Light. OOOH, take a sec to soak that in, lol.
But yeah, this is an interesting little story from Lewis, with a sad ending as well, as Robin is so desperate to see pure light that in search of it he tragically dies. But it’s also a provocative think piece because this thing, this light, God is so special, yet also elusive (at least to his degree of understanding) that it’s the only thing he desires to find. The author describes his longing for it saying, “Somewhere it must exist. Perhaps not in England – perhaps only rare deposits of it existed, far away to the East in deserts or high mountains. In that case, he would never see it. But if he did – ah yes, if – he would dive into its very heart, give all himself away to it, drink, drink, drink, drink it til he died drinking.”
Isn’t that beautiful imagery? To long for God that much, so much so that when you find Him/Her/It/God you lovingly give yourself away in death. The Christian-ese of this would be to die to self thus gaining Christ.
It’s such a deep love and longing for the light that Robin has, and it beautifully challenges me, as I hope it does you, to consider how much you long for and love the light as well.