Last week, for no reason except that it was in front of me, I picked up Lewis’ A Grief Observed. Douglas Gresham’s introduction took me in and it wasn’t long before I’d read all four chapters of the short book.
But not without being profoundly shaken. It’s a raw, intimate book, like reading someone’s journal, as Lewis walks through debilitating grief after his wife’s death. Reading it is like watching the writhing of a man in agony. I barely had the emotional fortification to take it in. Parts of it made me cry, and drew me back to re-read them, as a kind of catharsis and soothing.
Living in a broken, groaning world, even without feeling the deep grief of death, I ask God lots of questions. It calms me somehow to know that He hears and understands and cares, and that’s enough, even though the questions don’t have answers.
Am I just sidling back to God because I know that if there’s any road to H. it runs through Him? But then of course I know perfectly well that He can’t be used as a road. If you’re approaching Him not as the goal but as a road, not as the end but as the means, you’re not really approaching Him at all.
Lord, are these your real terms? Can I meet H. again only if I learn to love you so much that I don’t care whether I meet her again or not?
When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of “No answer.” It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, “Peace, child; you don’t understand.”
Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask–half our great theological and metaphysical problems–are like that.
Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.