“The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” CS Lewis The Problem of Pain
I read this quote earlier this week and I am struck by its truth. No matter what moments of pleasure are a part of our journey, they will never replace our deep desire for belonging, for “settled happiness and security.” That deep desire belongs to God alone, he is jealous for it. And though there are times when I may make the mistake of believing true ‘belonging’ is attainable outside of God, I am always brought back to the reality that it is in him alone where I rest.
As one of my readers commented “Everyone experiences loss and yearning, we are all travelers far from home.”
More and more I see those who are aware of this longing as a gift in our world. Because this is what makes us human. This is what can connect us to each other. When we are fully at home and secure we are unaware of the journey of others. We can ignore the lonely, walk by the homeless without a thought, have no heart for the refugee, dismiss the one who is ‘other’.”* But when we are in tune with this human yearning, we can reach out to others with compassion and grace. We can be those who offer refreshment on the journey.
And so I continue learning every day what it is to live well in a place where I don’t truly belong – and, though I don’t want to admit it, that is a gift. Today I will enjoy the “pleasant inns” along the way, refreshment for the journey, and hope you do as well.