Monday, August 4, 2008

C.S.Lewis doesn't realise, but he's talking about motherhood

Who would have thought a confirmed bachelor (well, yes, he did get married when he was older, but you know what I mean) could teach you about motherhood? But that's exactly what C.S.Lewis does here.

Like Lewis, I could happily spend my days in an ivory tower, book spread in front of me and pen in hand. But motherhood mercifully preserves me from my own selfishness.

Motherhood drags me from my computer and my books, and fills me with the bigger vision of pouring God's truth into a child's heart. It keeps me busy washing floors, wiping bottoms, and cleaning snotty noses. It keeps me performing the lowliest servant's tasks.

Which is just where I need to be.

Something Lewis discovered (in other terms) many years ago:

We now settled into a routine which has ever since served in my mind as an archetype, so that what I still mean when I speak of a "normal" day (and lament that normal days are so rare) is a day of the Bookham pattern. For if I could please myself I would always live as I lived there. I would choose always to breakfast at exactly eight and to be at my desk by nine, there to read or write till one. If a cup of good tea or coffee could be brought me about eleven, so much the better. A step or so out of doors for a pint of beer would not do quite so well; for a man does not want to drink alone and if you meet a friend in the taproom the break is likely to be extended beyond its ten minutes. At one precisely lunch should be on the table; and by two at the latest I would be on the road. Not, except at rare intervals, with a friend. Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it s a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the utdoor world; and talking leads almost invevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned. ... The return from the walk, and the arrival of tea, should be exactly coincident, and not later than a quarter past four. Tea should be taken in solitude... For eating and reading are two pleasure that combine admirably. Of course not all books are suitable for mealtime reading. It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table. What one wants is a gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere... At five a man should be at work again, and at it till seven. Then, at the evening meal and after, comes the time for talk, or failing that, for lighter reading; and unless you are making a night of it with your cronies (and at Bookham I had none) there is no reason why you should ever be in bed later than eleven. But when is a man to write his letters? You forget that I am describing the happy life I led with Kirk or the ideal life I would live now if I could. And it is an essential of the happy life that a man would have almost no mail and never dread the postman's knock. Such is my ideal, and such then, (almost) was the reality, of "settled, calm, Epicurean life." It is no doubt for my own good that I have been so generally prevented from leading it, for it is a life almost entirely selfish.
From C.S.Lewis Surprised by Joy; emphasis mine.


Lara said...

That's a fantastic quote, and so challenging. Thanks Jean! I'm not a mother, but I got married recently and I'm trying to adjust to a new kind of life without the level of freedom and flexibility of the single life. It's great to be reminded that the kind of life I might sometimes dream about is fundamentally selfish.

mattnbec said...

Great quote. I don't think I would have thought about it in terms of motherhood unless you'd mentioned it, but it's so true.

A number of church mums met at the park recently and commented that motherhood has definitely shown us how selfish we are. Praise God!