Tag Archives: Longing

“Here at last is the thing I was made for” by C.S. Lewis

“There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.

You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that.

Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all of your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw– but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.

Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of– something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat’s side?

Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling of that which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for?

You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it – tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear.

But if it should ever really become manifest – if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself- you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say, ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.’

We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work.

While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1940/1996), 149-151.

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“You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness” by C.S. Lewis

“In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency.

I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both.

We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.

Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering.

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things– the beauty, the memory of our own past– are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers.

For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them.

And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has laid upon us for nearly a hundred years.”

–C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses(New York: Harper Collins, 1949/2001), 29-31.

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“Yet I long for more” by Samuel Rutherford

“I counsel you to think highly of Christ, and of free, free grace, more than ye did before; for I know that Christ is not known amongst us. I think that I see more of Christ than ever I saw; and yet I see but little of what may be seen.

Oh that He would draw back the curtains, and that the King would come out of His gallery and His palace, that I might see Him! Christ’s love is young glory and young heaven; it would soften hell’s pain to be filled with it.

What would I refuse to suffer, if I could get but a draught of love at my heart’s desire! Oh, what price can be given for Him. Angels cannot weigh Him.

Oh, His weight, His worth, His sweetness, His overpassing beauty! If men and angels would come and look to that great and princely One, their ebbness could never take up His depth, their narrowness could never comprehend His breadth, height, and length.

If ten thousand thousand worlds of angels were created, they might all tire themselves in wondering at His beauty, and begin again to wonder of new.

Oh that I could come nigh Him, to kiss His feet, to hear His voice, to feel the smell of His ointments! But oh, alas! I have little, little of Him.

Yet I long for more.”

–Samuel Rutherford, “Letter CLXXV,” Letters of Samuel Rutherford (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1664/2012), 331.

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“We all long for Eden” by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’.”

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Ed. Humphrey Carpenter (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000), 110. Tolkien penned these words in a letter to his son, Christopher Tolkien, on January 30, 1945.

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“He sets our tears in His sight” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Prayer is to be free of much speaking (Matthew 6:7), but not of much entreaty, if the fervor and attention persist. To speak much in prayer is to transact a necessary piece of business with unnecessary words. But to entreat much of Him whom we entreat is to knock by a long-continued and devout uplifting of the heart (Luke 18:1, 7).

In general, this business of prayer is transacted more by sighs than by speech (Romans 8:26), more by tears than by utterance (Psalm 126:5-6).

But He sets our tears in His sight (Psalm 56:8) and our groaning is not hidden from Him (Psalm 38:9) who created all things by His Word and who does not need human words.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Letter 130 (A.D. 412)” in Letters, Volume 2 (83-130), Trans. Wilfrid Parsons (Washington, D.C.: CUA Press: 1953/2008), 391.

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“Drink of the torrent of His pleasure” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Whoever asks that one thing of the Lord (Psalm 27:4) and seeks after it asks with certainty and security, without fear that it will do him harm when he obtains it.

Without this, no other thing which he asks as he ought will do him any good when he obtains it. That one thing is the one true and solely happy life, that we may see forever the delight of the Lord, and made immortal and incorruptible in body and soul.

Other things are sought for the sake of this one thing, and are asked for with propriety. Whoever possesses it will have everything he wishes, and will not be able to wish for anything in that state, because it will not be possible for him to have anything unbecoming.

Truly, the fountain of life is found there (Psalm 34:8-10), which we must now thirst for in our prayers, as long as we live in hope, because we do not see what we hope for (Romans 8:25) under the cover of His wings, before whom is all our desire.

We hope to be inebriated with the plenty of His house, and to drink of the torrent of His pleasure, since with Him is the fountain of life, and in His light we shall see light. (Psalm 36:9)

Then our desire shall be satisfied with good things and there will be nothing more for us to seek by our groaning, since we will possess all things to our joy.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Letter 130 (A.D. 412)” in Letters, Volume 2 (83-130), Trans. Wilfrid Parsons (Washington, D.C.: CUA Press: 1953/2008), 398-398.

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