Saturday, 17 February 2007

An encounter with the holy

What does it feel like to encounter holiness? CS Lewis evokes, in my opinion, a fantastic sense of what it is like for a sinner to be in the presence of true holiness. This is an account of a man in the presence of an archangel.

“My fear was now of another kind. I felt sure that the creature was what we call ‘good’, but I wasn’t sure whether I liked ‘goodness’ so much as I supposed. This is a very terrible experience. As long as what you are afraid of is something evil, you may still hope that the good may come to your rescue. But suppose you struggle through to the good and find that it also is dreadful? How if food itself turns out to be the very thing you can’t eat, and home the very place you can’t live, and your very comforter the person who makes you uncomfortable? Then, indeed, there is no rescue possible: the last card has been played. For a second or two I was nearly in that condition. Here at last was a bit of that world from beyond the world, which I had supposed that I loved and desired, breaking through and appearing to my senses: and I didn’t like it, I wanted it to go away. I wanted every possible distance, gulf, curtain, blanket and barrier to be placed between it and me.” CS Lewis (Voyage to Venus p.14-15)