Returning to an old friend...
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 7:11:15 AM
Meanwhile, I have been returning to a book that forever changed me. It is called A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. He and his wife Davy lived an uncommon life and very romantic, but it was through his relationship with C.S. Lewis and Davy's death that Mr. Vanauken found Christ. He, Davy and his friends at Oxford, all poets, academics and artists, lived in love with Christ. There is so much I could say about this fellowship and the Bible study that Davy and Sheldon led before her death, but instead I want to post some of Sheldon Vanauken's poems over the next couple of days.
In his and C.S. Lewis' own words --
"Discussing every line with Davy, I completed my poem on the choice, 'The Gap'. Even as I worked on that one, I was diverted to another on in which the soul's act of choosing - though choose she must - is subordinated to the action of grace. These poems, when completed, I sent to C.S. Lewis. Here is the second of the two:
The Soul for comfort holds herself to beInviolate; but like the blowing sandsThat sift in shattered houses, Christ's demandsIntrude and sting, deny her to be free.
She twists and turns but finds it vain to flee,The living Word is in the very air,She can't escape a wound that's everywhere,She can but stand or yield - to ecstasy.
Her Lord is seeking entrance; she must choose.A thickening callus can withstand the painOf this rough irritant, the sands that swirlAgainst her thus defied. But if she loseHer self, Christ enters in - the sharp-edged grainOf sand embedded grows a shining pearl.
C.S. Lewis replied:
Thank you for a letter I prize very much. The sonnets, though in a manner which will win few hearers at the moment (drat all fashions) are really very remarkable. The test is that I found myself at once forgetting all the personal biographical interest and reading them as poetry. The image of sand is real imagination. I thought this was the better of the two at first: but now I don't know. The second quatrain of The Gap is a tip-top argument - and then the ground sinking behind. Excellent."
There is something soooo wonderful about a man finding Christ and reasoning through the Faith in his poetry. And Lewis, truly become his friend as he engaged Vanauken as a fellow academic and poet. C.S. Lewis wrestled with him and it was their correspondence that God used mightily.
I love this book. I just want live there in that world with them where art and Christ and truth all mingled together everyday. Don't you?
Here is the other poem mentioned above.
Did Jesus live? And did he really sayThe burning words that banish mortal fear?And are they true? Just this is central, hereThe Church must stand or fall. It's Christ we weigh.
All else is off the point: the Flood, the DayOf Eden, or the Virgin Birth - Have done!The Question is, did God send us the SonIncarnate crying Love! Love is the Way!
Between the probable and proved there yawnsA gap. Afraid to jump, we stand absurd,The see behind us sink the ground and, worse,Our very standpoint crumbling. Desperate dawnsOur only hope: to leap into the WordThat opens up the shuttered universe.
Live continuously in Christ.
Good night from LA.