As always, C.S. Lewis is vividly thought provoking as he wrestles with visceral emotions and conflicting thoughts in this book. It is not a easy read: dark clouds roll through Lewis’ mind as he deals with the pain of the loss of his bride. Yet, there are gleams of light that pierce through his gloom. Here are some of my favorite pithy quotations from A Grief Observed:
“The most precious gift that marriage gave me was this constant impact of something very close and intimate yet all the time unmistakably other, resistant — in a word, real.”
“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”
“What do people mean when they say ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never even been to a dentist?”
“My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence? The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins.”
Notwithstanding, there are troubling sections as well, where a grief stricken C.S. Lewis “yells” at God. He also mentions more than once his belief in purgatory. He says “I know there are not only tears to be dried but stains to be scoured.”
We must remember, however, that Lewis never intended to publish these notes, jotted in random manuscript books as a therapeutic wrestling through conflicted thoughts. One of the greatest qualities of Lewis was his willingness to ask questions, even if he didn’t always have all the answers.