This is a season of angels, Wiseman, shepherds, a census and a baby born in manger, but it is also a season of the Lion. A time to remember that the baby Jesus will become a man and willing sacrifice himself for all humanity. CS Lewis is one of my favorite writers, he was not fond of the Christmas holiday that he believed had become too commercial, even in his day. He did write about Christ in the Chronicles of Narnia and described him as Aslan the Lion: “One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down – and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”
Not like a tame lion; our God is wild. Lewis learned this through his experience of grief. He also began to write eloquently about the deep longing that defines human existence; a longing that can only be satisfied by our true eternal home in God. What I find profoundly helpful here is the acceptance that our lives will always be restless and filled with longing. It’s what led Augustine to sigh that well-known prayer: our hearts are restless, O Lord, until we find our rest in you. Lewis describes the full implications of that restless longing as an essential part of being fully human, full alive.
The restless longing of our hearts is evoked in everyday experience and it can lure us into the reality of God’s invisible presence. In “Till We Have Faces,” he declared, “It was when I was happiest that I longed most. … The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing … to find the place where all the beauty came from.”
He believed this longing was evoked by such simple experiences as the scent of a flower, a lovely musical tune, a conversation and more. When we mistake the experience as the real thing is when we lose our way. The real thing is always elusive in this life; it is our eternal home in God. The beautiful, the good and the true are the foretaste of what is to come: the eternal weight of glory (the title of another of his books.)
In the season of Advent, we draw most deeply into this longing for our eternal home. In the music, the biblical texts, the prayers and the Sacrament of Holy Communion our hearts are lifted into the remembrance of our eternal home. This longing is a sweet sorrow to which we respond, Come, Lord Jesus, come. May you experience Christ during this season, and give thanks for God’s kingdom.