Clive Staples (Jack) Lewis
The chief end of man, as I see it, is to find security, have liberty to express his abilities, enjoy the love of family and friends, and to secure recognition of his talents, to worship God in his own way, and to participate in a government that will protect him in his exercise of these liberties, and by education and training in the development of the arts and sciences, and the techniques of their application, help him to find his proper place in the scheme of things.
Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket safe, dark, motionless, airless it will change. It will not be broken it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
Imagine yourself living in a house. God comes to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. You knew that those jobs needed doing and so you were not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought ofthrowing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up the towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage but he is building a palace.
Sometimes, though not often in meetings of the Inklings, it would happen that no one had anything to read to us. On these occasions the fun would be riotous, with Jack at the top of his form and enjoying every minute 'no sound delights me more', he once said, 'than male laughter'. At the Inklings his talk was an outpouring of wit, nonsense, whimsy, dialectical swordplay, and pungent judgement such as I have rarely heard equalled no mere show put on for the occasion, either, since it was often quite as brilliant when he and I were alone together.... In his Preface to Essays Presented to Charles Williams, Jack gave a lively and moving account of what this circle meant to him.
As all his friends will bear witness, he was a man with an outstanding gift for pastime with good company, for laughter and the love of friends a gift which found full scope in any number of holidays and walking tours, the joyous character of his response to these being well conveyed in his letters. He had, indeed, a remarkable talent for friendship, particularly for friendship of an uproarious kind, and argumentative but never quarrelsome.
There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries avoid all entanglements lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casketsafe, dark, motionless, airlessit will change. It will not be broken it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
The next hour, the next moment, is as much beyond our grasp and as much in God's care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is just as foolish as care for tomorrow, or for a day in the next thousand years. In neither can we do anything, in both God is doing everything. Those claims only of tomorrow which have to be repeated today are the joy of today the moment which coincides with work to be done, is the moment to be minded the next is nowhere until God has made it.
The vice I am talking about is Pride or Self-Conceit and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea-bites in comparison it was through Pride that the devil became the devil Pride leads to every other vice it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
You ask whether I have ever been in love fool as I am, I am not such a fool as that. But if one is only to talk from first-hand experience, conversation would be a very poor business. But though I have no personal experience of the things they call love, I have what is better the experience of Sappho, of Euripides, of Catallus, of Shakespeare, of Spenser, of Austen, of Bronte, of anyone else I have read.