TO ARTHUR GREEVES: On the meaning of interruptions and real life; on the difficulty of being patient; and on expiating through embracing one’s own sufferings.
20 December 1943
Things are pretty bad here. Minto’s varicose ulcer gets worse and worse, domestic help harder and harder to come by. Sometimes I am very unhappy, but less so than I have often been in what were (by external standards) better times.
The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time—I know your problems must be much the same as mine (with the important difference that mine are of my own making, a very appropriate punishment and, like all God’s punishments, a chance for expiation.)
Isn’t it hard to go on being patient, to go on supplying sympathy? One’s stock of love turns out, when the testing time comes, to be so very inadequate: I suppose it is well that one should be forced to discover the fact!
I find too (do you?) that hard days drive one back on Nature. I don’t mean walks . . . but little sights and sounds seen at windows in odd moments.
I had a most vivid, tranquil dream about you the other night, just chatting in the old way. Let’s hope it will happen sometime. For the rest, I’ve no news.
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.