Graven image vs Real presence


C. S. Lewis’ fear that the real image of his wife, Joy, would be replaced by his memories of her changed by what he wanted her to have been or remembered her to have been without the parts that he didn’t want – she’d become an idealized image. The real Joy was no longer there as a reference point to ensure accuracy. He feared instead of loving the real her he would be loving his image of her and it would be more him than her. When you think about it, it probably explains why Christ gave His followers the Mass. “Do this in remembrance of me” and further instructed them to do this as oft as they gathered together in his memory. The Mass ensures both a collective more accurate memory and evokes the real presence of Christ as a reference point. You can’t go far wrong if you have the presence of Christ correcting you.
I think that Lewis has raised a real danger for many people on the grief journey. The pain makes them remember only the good and the image of their loved one gradually becomes idealized and no longer accurate. It could happen to me as well. Already I find it difficult to visualize her in my mind (without the aid of photos) or remember ALL of her as she was in the last few months. It is why I appreciated her dairies when I put together Quiet Love. In the early part of the journey, grief seems to throw a blanket over you that clouds out everything.
In some of my posts I occasionally have let my image of Pat speak. But when I go too far from who she really was/is her presence corrects me. She gets crotchety on that screen she types to me on and the words flow very fast. Pat snaps at me about what I wrote and she corrects me or tells me not to dare to write about that. I am reminded that she is much more than the she who lives in my memory. She is not dead, she is risen and in the loving arms of Christ and partly in me. C. S. Lewis wrote “The most precious gift that marriage gave me was this constant impact of something very close and intimate yet all the time other, resistant – in a word, real.” Lewis rejects that the two made one of the marriage sacrament, continues for all eternity.
The problem of not confusing the memory Pat with the Real presence Pat could also be in me; but, isn’t because I believe Love is stronger than Death. Thank God for her corrections, scolding, reassurances and declarations of love and for her very real presence. I can feel her approval when I get something right and her anger when I get something wrong because of that presence. I am in love with the Real her and unlike Lewis I don’t have to worry about falling in love with my created image of Pat. I don’t need an graven image of Pat, in the Real presence of her in me I have the real thing.
She IS at peace now. At her death, she was taken directly into the arms of Christ and into that peace that passeth all understanding. Every time she communicates with me I can feel that peace in her. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to share that peace yet, even though I feel her presence in me. I still feel lonely and still cry for proof and comfort with mad endearments and entreaties spoken to her and God. Lord I believe help me in my unbelief. Amen

About thebows99krug

Hi, I am Eric, a retired librarian. I was born in St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto and raised in the downtown area north of the Art Gallery, south of the University of Toronto. I went to Orde Street Public School, Harbord C.I., University College at the UofT and the UofT's Faculty of Library and Information Science. I meet my wife Patricia at FLIS; our first date was on November 15, 1968. We were engaged February 14, 1969 and married on June 21, 1969. Our family includes son, James; daughter-in-law, Erin; (both writers), grand-daughters, Vivian and Eleanor; and Pooka, a small but fierce gray tabby. I would like to hear from any other class of '63 alumni of Harbord C.I. and class of '67 alumni of UofT's University College.
This entry was posted in Family, Grief, Religion, Religion - Anglican. Bookmark the permalink.

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