For your daily devotions, complete with Bible verse and plenty of C.S. Lewis references. Enjoy.
1 Corinthians 13:11-12
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
C.S. Lewis talks a lot about this idea of seeing dimly as in a mirror. The idea is that heaven is more real than the world we know now: the world we live in is only a reflection of the true reality, which is found in Heaven. All the goodness and beauty on Earth are only a reflection of the real goodness and beauty of God. In other words, Heaven contains the Platonic Forms for everything good on Earth. God is the Form.
At the very end of The Chronicles of Narnia, the world is ended and the characters enter the heavenly Narnia, to find that the old Narnia they knew in this life was “only a shadow or copy of the real Narnia which has always been here”. They spend their time going “further up and further in,” discovering more and more of the “true” Narnia. The heavenly Narnia is also described as being “like an onion: except that as you go in and in, each circle is larger than the last.”
When I became an atheist, I discovered that the universe was that onion. I became a man and put childish ways behind me. I saw the universe face to face, with no intermediary. It was as if previously there had been a thin, fuzzy film over everything I saw or sensed or felt– not the result of sin or distance from God, but the result of painting a veneer of God on the surface of everything. All that was stripped away when I began to see the world as the thing itself and not a reflection or footprint. Every sound, every sensation and feeling and morsel of knowledge, was magnified.
In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis illustrates the ‘realness’ of heaven this way: when the people from Hell/Purgatory visit Heaven, even the blades of grass are so real and hard and solid that they cut into the feet of the visitors, who were not accustomed to the realness of heaven.
When I became an atheist, every pain and joy and sorrow was magnified as well, and I felt the breadth of what it meant to be alive in the universe, unshielded and unbuffered.
Adam and Eve must have had a similar experience when they left Eden. The world outside the garden was a more accurate depiction of reality than they had known, yet because it cut their feet, they pined for the place they had left, like the visitors to Heaven who just wanted to get back on the bus to Hell.
I, too, wanted to get back on the bus at first: to be back in a place of comfort and familiarity, where I could pray and put my trust in God and look to him for everything. But I recognized the pain for what it was: reality. Realness is not in the future, or in some eternal heavenly Form. Reality is now, and if you’re looking for it elsewhere, you’re missing it. There is no limit to the wonder and breathtaking detail of this world, unless you decide that there is. If you put all your hope in a future world and cover up the wonder before your eyes with a film, a filter, then it will be limited, and you will never see the full extent of it.
How many people really drink up the full extent of reality? It is more than we can imbibe, yet some look at the filmy breadth before them and say, “everything is meaningless”. Let us put childish ways behind us, peel away the narrow filter, and go further up and further in.