TO ARTHUR GREEVES: On his brother’s admission to an Oxford hospital, for treatment of alcoholism; and on the meaning of vicarious suffering, or what Lewis will call, in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the “Deeper Magic,” mentioned above in his letter to Sister Penelope, 19 November 1941.
2 July 1949
Thanks for your most kind and comforting letter—like a touch of a friend’s hand in a dark place. For it is much darker than I feared. W’s trouble is to be called ‘nervous insomnia’ in speaking to Janie and others; but in reality (this for your private ear) it is Drink. This bout started about ten days ago. Last Sunday the doctor and I begged him to go into a nursing home (that has always effectively ended previous bouts) and he refused. Yesterday we succeeded in getting him in; but alas, too late. The nursing home has announced this morning that he is out of control and they refuse to keep him. Today a mental specialist is to see him and he will be transferred, I hope for a short stay, to what is called a hospital but is really an asylum. Naturally there is no question of a later Irish jaunt for me this year. A few odd days here and there in England is the best I can hope for.
Don’t imagine I doubt for a moment that what God sends us must be sent in love and will all be for the best if we have grace to use it so. My mind doesn’t waver on this point; my feelings sometimes do. That’s why it does me good to hear what I believe repeated in your voice—it being the rule of the universe that others can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves and one can paddle every canoe except one’s own. That is why Christ’s suffering for us is not a mere theological dodge but the supreme case of the law that governs the whole world; and when they mocked him by saying, ‘He saved others, himself he cannot save,’ [Matthew 27:42; Mark 15:31] they were really uttering, little as they knew it, the ultimate law of the spiritual world.
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.