Oh Joy!!

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

“We do not merely want to see beauty, although, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”
Yes! Yes! That is exactly what I want. Don’t you? To “pass into” beauty, to meld with beauty, to be part of something beautiful till we are so full of it that Joy just explodes out of us!
I believe that most adults, especially adult Christians, know the difference between happiness and joy.  I also believe that most of us spend our lives searching for that happiness we think we were promised. Ah, but being an American does not guarantee anything but the “pursuit of happiness,” yet many spend whole lives waiting expectantly for that ole blue bird of happiness to show up. Sigh….
Thankfully, though, Joy may be found with little difficulty. Joy just pops up daily like a new yellow tulip, or like a fuzzy little hatchling in its broken blue shell, or like the smell of newly baked bread, chocolate chip cookies. You get the picture. JOY is so available. Why don’t more of us just grab handfuls of it, just wallow in joy every day?
Do you know Lucy, the little girl whose curiosity propelled her into and through a magic cupboard, and who, with quite a shock, and immense joy, found herself in the beautiful white world of Narnia? Do you remember the wicked Ice Queen, or the faun creature who befriended Lucy; you certainly could not forget the magnificent Lion, Aslan, who saved the girl and her family at the cost of his own life?
Perhaps as a child you first experienced the magic, mystery, and wonder that is the work of C.S. Lewis through his brilliant children’s tales set in the land of Narnia. Sadly, it was not until I was an adult and when my own children were grown and no longer wanted a bedtime story that I discovered the sheer pleasure that is inside the cupboard which is central to his book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” I think it may have been my grandchildren who introduced me to a side of the English scholar, philosopher, and Oxford Don that I was unaware of.
Happily, some years ago, I had been given a copy of his collected radio essays “Mere Christianity,” originally broadcasts which aired during World War II. These wonderful “talks” were designed to help lift the spirits of his fellow British patriots who were suffering the nightly bombing raids on London and the coast of England. They continue to inspire generations of adults with messages of Christian hope and faith, and are as important in today’s world as they were 75 years ago. We who live on edge in today’s scary world can certainly benefit from a healthy dose of Lewis’ explanation of Faith and Love in that small but powerful book.
On Sunday, two of our dearest friends, Ruth and Raymond Gray, treated us to an absolutely splendid performance of “The Most Reluctant Convert” at the Ferst Theatre on the Georgia Tech campus. Max McLean, playwright and actor, brought C.S. Lewis to life, in a most sober, erudite, “high-toned,” yet warm and funny one-man show. The play beautifully captures Lewis’ struggle and dramatic conversion to Christianity from his position as a materialist, a determinist, an atheist. Not your cup of tea? Well, Bill might have said the same, until just moments into the actor’s opening soliloquy, even as we, and the entire audience, leaned forward in our seats–straining hard to understand the soft accent of the scholarly British professor–Bill was enthralled! I was mesmerized!
“At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in.”
Is that not just the most exciting idea you’ve come across in, well, just ages? I mean I can hardly wait to “mingle with the splendours;” those splendours that are Nature’s jewels: the clouds, the sunsets, the rushing mountain streams. Mingling with the rainbow trout, or blending in with the soft, tawny bodies of newborn fawns. Being in the presence of all that is Good and Beautiful and True. Oh, what Joy!
I believe C.S. Lewis has written the single most beautiful phrase in the English language, in any language. “Oh, to hear the leaves of the New Testament rustle with the rumour,” He will return.

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