Tag Archives: reading

The Four Loves and Kindred Spirits

 I have been avoiding C.S. Lewis for awhile now, ever since I attempted Mere Christianity with little progress. He seemed dry and dull and far too intellectual – nothing like my experience with faith. But after prodding from a dear friend, “Give it a try, Cath. Trust me. It’s one of my favorites.”, I picked up the beautiful copy of Lewis’s The Four Loves that had sat on my bookshelf, unnoticed and certainly unloved.

There is nothing better than a beautiful book beside your bed, waiting for you to put the day aside and enter into someone else’s thoughts, even for a little while.

Here was a man I felt I had met before. What could a balding Anglican Brit have in common with a young American woman from the twenty-first-century? No longer did he seem like an emotionless intellectual, but he wrote like someone who had struggled with the same things I am working through. Lewis doesn’t leave his intellect behind in The Four Loves, but he uses it to delve into the human experience and show the manifestations of God’s love here on earth. He divides love into four categories – Affection, Friendship, Eros, and Charity – and shows the different aspects of God’s character in each. Of course, I enjoyed some more than others (who doesn’t like a good discussion of eros?), but the truth is, all four are interconnected. They overlap and share some of the beautiful qualities that make each one worthwhile, each one important to our fullness. “We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually; we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves,” Lewis says (215). This acknowledgment of our need, rather than making me actually feel needy, allowed me to breathe more deeply. So this desire I feel for communion, for friendship, for relationship with others, is good? It isn’t (necessarily) misplaced need? I’ve known for awhile that we were created to be in communion (who has spent any time at a Christian university WITHOUT hearing that?!), but here, now, finally, I can see why. A reflection of the Trinity, yes. But a window to the self, as well.

Pope John Paul II, in his “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women on the Occasion of the Marian Year” reminds us:

For every individual is made in the image of God, insofar as he or she is a rational and free creature capable of knowing God and loving him. Moreover, we read that man cannot exist “alone” (cf. Gen 2:18); he can exist only as a “unity of the two”, and therefore in relation to another human person…Being a person in the image and likeness of God thus also involves existing in a relationship, in relation to the other “I” (III.7).

So I’m getting it from all sides, this interconnectedness, this relationship. I watched “Anne of Green Gables” last night, and I was immediately transported to girlhood. I remember longing for Anne’s idea of a”bosom friend,” a “kindred spirit,” and even now, as I watched and nearly quoted each line as it came, I realized that that is still what I seek. The difference is, though, that there are more kindred spirits than I thought (Anne says the same later on). I’ve found some in the strangest places – growing up down the street, studying the perplexing subject of English (what in the world is its use?!), living in my surprise apartment senior year of college. I even found one working at the tea shop.

I guess all that to say, love and its many forms continue to fascinate me. Affection and Eros, Friendship and Charity, they have such possibility, such potential to bring peace and hope and comfort. Kindred spirits are hiding just down the street, just at the next table, sipping their own cups of coffee and smiling to themselves as they read. They could have written books over fifty years ago, only to be discovered and appreciated by you so much later. They could also be burning their own granola.

To always be looking for those kindred spirits. That sounds like a good champagne toast to me.

Back Home!

Back from a week of the midwest. How’d I do with my list?

On the Plane
  • Finish Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and start Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Let’s just say I finished The Year of Magical Thinking long before I got to the plane, and I didn’t have time to grab Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Did read Diane Keaton’s Then Again, which was pretty good. Could’ve used more pictures of Warren Beatty though…
  • Watch all the passengers
And make up stories about them…BIG CHECK
  • Write in my journal
Of course this happened, but it’s always harder for me to write when there is so much to look at and experience. What if I miss something?! The real writing comes later.
Oklahoma
  • Hang out!
We got lost on the way home from the airport (not so shocking to people who know us), and we talked the entire time. And didn’t really stop until the last hug at the Tulsa airport three days later. A lot happens in two years, but it’s amazing how you immediately fall back into the way things always were.
  • Eat sushi and barbecue
Yes, I consumed both sushi and barbecue while in OK. I didn’t even have to ask for them. Now that’s good hosting.
 St. Louis
  • Relax
Definitely. Read. Wrote. Ran dogs in the woods. Went to Barnes and Noble, drank coffee, and looked through books with beautiful houses. Talked a lot. (I’m pretty sure I left A. exhausted, both emotionally and verbally. He’s not used to my lifestyle.)
  • Check out a church
Went to church. A lot. Early service in chairs in a make-shift sanctuary while the real sanctuary is being renovated. Then on to Sunday School (and yes, people are interesting/weird/lovable wherever you go). Then to help out in children’s church. I have a new appreciation for people who work with children. The patience those helpers exhibited could only come from God. Then at 6:30 there was evening church. The evening sermon was thought-provoking, and on the way home we got burgers. A good ending.
  • Check out a museum

Um, St. Louis closes down on Mondays. No art museums were open! But my girlfriends and a husband and I rode the tram up to the arch and looked out over the city. While we waited to go up, we strolled through the Lewis and Clark museum, so I guess that can count. The tram was like a little capsule for five people. We only had four in our group, so some unsuspecting bald man had to squeeze in with us. And the three of us girls sure know how to be annoying when we’re happy. Poor guy.

And I come home, a little more broke than when I left. But who’s complaining? Too many good memories to care.

A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day. I woke up and attempted to give it to the Lord – largely because I hoped if I did that, He would make it good. But I’d done the same thing the day before Lord, this is Your day. Help me to live it well. and He had not made it good, at least by my standards.

Here I was again, asking that He take this block of time and make it good. The way I wanted it. This time He decided to fill it up with some Catherine-type-goodness:

1. I sent in my application and downpayment for a TEFL program in the city. I can’t tell you how accomplished I feel, just putting that stupid envelope in the mail (yes, that’s right, envelope, because they don’t take online payment! What is this, the 20th century?!). Now to wait it out and see. A full month of school – does it get any better?

2. 30 minutes with a dear friend. 30 minutes in which I was asked about how I truly was, and truly asked in return. 30 minutes in which I was told my poetry submission to the student-run publication had caused the most conversation of all. Score. And 30 minutes to remember that we are not called to love others only when they are happy, excited, beautiful, but that we have enough love for them even when they are a darker version of themselves. Friends remind us of a lot.

3. And this one is the most embarrassing: laughing out loud roughly five times in a crowded Starbucks. Alone. Curled up in a comfy chair. Reading. I couldn’t believe myself. I NEVER do that, but Bill Bryson had me in fits of giggles in public, and, frankly, more people should’ve joined me. That man is hilarious.

Ah. Goodness.