The Detestable Art
Humans are amphibians – half spirit and half animal.
As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation – the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks.
…Now it may surprise you to learn that in His (God’s) efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks;some of His special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.
The reason is this. To us (the demons) a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience that the Enemy (God) demands of men is quite a different thing.
One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself – creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His.”
C.S. Lewis – The Screwtape Letters (emphasis mine)
Life can throw us curveballs when we least expect it. Sometimes we barely manage to push ourselves off our knees before we’re brought low again. We are undulating through life in the ever constant shift between highs and lows, goods and bads, troughs and peaks.
This is where our passions, our imaginations, and our eternal, spiritually connected souls take shape.
I’ve spent the morning digging through The Screwtape Letters once again. When life feels curvy, I find solace in books. My anxious heart calms in the rhythm of the written word. There is equal comfort to be found in music, which Lewis describes in The Screwtape Letters (from a demon’s point of view) as “a detestable art…a meaningless acceleration in the rhythm of celestial experience.”
“Something like it occurs in heaven,” he writes. Then he describes laughter as producing a similar effect on the human soul.
I don’t know where you are in life today, whether you’re down on your knees, trying to dust off yet another disappointment, or recoiling from the aftershocks of unexpected news, but I offer you this encouragement:
Look for comfort in beautifully penned words, and seek the peace of the scriptures.
Listen to music that pulls you into that realm of celestial experience.
And, if at all possible (and it’s always possible), find a way to laugh. Look for fun wherever you might find it, and for however brief a time it may appear, for as Lewis writes, “Fun is closely related to Joy – a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct.”