“Come, let us worship God, wonderful in his saints!”
So ended Michael Ward’s introduction in our program today for the C.S. Lewis memorial service. And that is exactly what we did. I read those words as I sat in my straight wooden chair beneath the rainbow filtered light of the soaring stained glass windows in Westminster Abbey. The organ hummed the opening music amidst the swish and whisper of the gathering congregation. I watched almost a thousand people filter in to celebrate the life of C.S. Lewis. Wielder of words, weaver of stories, and humble-hearted friend, Lewis wrote and spoke from the Love that was the light by which he saw the world. In honoring his life today, we blessed the beautiful God who was the heart and Joy of it all.
Come, Holy Spirit, and send the heavenly radiance of your light. Come, Father of the poor; come giver of gifts; come, light of all hearts. Amen. This was the opening prayer. I have a thousand things I want to write later on. I thought hard about reason and imagination once more as I listened to Alistair McGrath and Malcolm Guite speak on Lewis’ ideas on those topics yesterday. But tonight, as I write this short post, I’m basking in the way that the life of Lewis, an author I love, one of the first people I hope to meet in heaven, showed us the life of God. There was such joy in the air today, such a taste of the life that will someday come.
The Dean’s prayer: Almighty God, Father of lights and author of all goodness: we give thee humble praise for the life and work of thy servant C.S. Lewis, and beseech thee that, as he has helped us to look to a world beyond this world and to hopes better than our own, we may come with him to the fulness of everlasting joy which thou has prepared for them that truly love thee, in the heavenly courts of they Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Further up and further in!” roared the Unicorn, and no one held back… And soon they found themselves all walking together – and a great, bright procession it was – up towards the mountains higher than you could see in this world even if they were there to be seen. But there was no snow on those mountains: there were forests and green slopes and sweet orchards and flashing waterfalls, one above the other, going up for ever… The light ahead was growing stronger. Lucy saw that a great series of many-coloured cliffs led up in front of them like a giant’s staircase. And then she forgot everything else, because Aslan himself was coming, leaping down from cliff to cliff like a living cataract of power and beauty…” —part of the excerpt from The Last Battle, read aloud by Douglas Gresham.
I felt I got a little “further up and further in” today. Lewis is the one who calls us that way, and I think “roar” would be a good way to describe it, as he does the voice of the unicorn, Jewel. Every aspect of his life was a shout and a song calling us further into the great Reality he apprehended in imagination and described with his powerful reason. God bless C.S. Lewis. I remember him with thanks today. And I’m ready to follow him deep into the mountains and life of God.
Sarah Clarkson is the author of several books including the best-selling The Life-giving Home, which she co-authored with her mother, Sally Clarkson. Sarah is currently studying literature at Oxford University where she's not only a brilliant thinker and writer, but is also the president of the C. S. Lewis Society.