C.S. Lewis


Her absence is no more emphatic in those places than anywhere else. It’s not local at all. I suppose if one were forbidden all salt one wouldn’t notice it much more in any one food more than another. Eating in general would be different, every day, at every meal. It is like that. The act of living is different all through. Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.

The safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

The Screwtape Letters

Did you mark how naturally–as if he’d been born for it–the Earth-born vermin entered the new life? How all his doubts became, in the twinkling of an eye, ridiculous? I know what the creature was saying to itself! ‘Yes. Of course. It always was like this. All horrors have followed the same course, getting worse and worse and forcing you into a kind of bottleneck till, at the very moment when you thought you must be crushed, behold! you were out of the narrows and all was suddenly well. The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you woke. You die and die and then you are beyond death. How could I ever have doubted it?’

Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey ‘people.’ People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war…. Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest.

The greatest evil is not done in those sordid dens of evil that Dickens loved to paint … but is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.

Introduction to The Screwtape Letters, rev. ed. 1952

Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself.”

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.

If, as I can’t help suspecting, the dead also feel the pains of separation (and this may be one of their purgatorial sufferings), then for both lovers, and for all pairs of lovers without exception, bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.

It is hard to have patience with people who say “There is no death” or “Death doesn’t matter.” There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter.

Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.

Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.

I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow however turns out to be not a state but a process.