Why I Believe: C.S. Lewis and Me – Part Two

boy-tree

My journey from atheism to faith

To read Part One click here.

I began to think of my longing for God as a hunger for a flavor that didn’t exist. Which seemed odd. But there was one example of such a phenomenon—and only one—in my experience:

As long as I could remember, I’d had an inexplicable desire for…it was impossible to describe it, really…a sort of sweet…something…that seemed like it might be a fruit…if it existed…which, of course, it didn’t. I’d longed for this flavor and the smell I associated with it for as long as I could remember. And for as long as I had desired it, I’d been certain it was imaginary. Though how I could desire an imaginary fruit, I couldn’t imagine.

Then one day I walked into a little organic produce store in Costa Mesa, California and smelled my “imaginary fruit!” I walked over to a burlap-lined barrel, and pulled out a missing year of my childhood. Long-forgotten memories came flooding back of hours spent daydreaming in the branches of a peculiar little tree in my babysitter Frieda’s backyard—it’s astonishing how effectively memories and emotions can be unlocked by smells. dIt turns out to have been a feijoa (pineapple guava) tree. And what I now held in my hand was one of its distinctive green plum-like fruits. When I bit into it, “the flavor that didn’t exist” proved to be quite real, and brought back memories of a time that was equally real. Just as, decades earlier, C. S. Lewis had discovered:

“As I stood there beside a flowering currant bush on a summer day there suddenly arose in me without warning, and as if from a depth not of years but of centuries, the memory of that earlier morning at the Old House when my brother had brought his toy garden into the nursery. It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me…” (Surprised by Joy)

If my only example of a longing for an imaginary flavor had proven to be false—or rather the falseness false and the longing real—then what did that say about my longing for God? I began to doubt my doubts. And here’s what I learned from the doubting:

No one can hunger for a flavor that doesn’t exist. Because hunger or desire is not a thing in itself, but only an impression left by the thing, and in that sense is actually less real—just as a footprint is less real than the foot that made it. Desire is a longing to refill the negative with the positive. All of which is simply a reiteration of what St. Augustine said sixteen hundred years ago—“Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee” (Confessions)—and what Blaise Pascal meant when he said, “There was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace.” praying intently / the man communes with his God / desperate for his love(Pensees)

And so I walked into the dark one last time, and said, “OK. You don’t have to cough. Just take me with You when You go, because I don’t ever want to be without You again.”

And the Hound of Heaven began dragging me home.

“Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind, I turned to share the transport.”          ~William Wordsworth

To read Part Three click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Why I Believe: C.S. Lewis and Me – Part Two

  1. Pingback: Why I Believe: C.S. Lewis and Me – Part One | Mitch Teemley

  2. Eliza Ayres says:

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. JOY journal says:

    A beautiful faith story!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ms. M says:

    Enjoying the series! I more identify with Hemingway, but the similarities with others like us are fascinating.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. simplywendi says:

    Mitch, thank you so much for this……..you have given me hope for a dear loved one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was a very nice read, Thank you. And C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite Authors.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ann Coleman says:

    You’re right, no one can long for something that doesn’t exist. And throughout history, humans have longed for God. Thanks so much for sharing your personal story, Mitch. It’s very powerful and touching.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reely Bernie says:

    I’m assuming you’ve seen Shadowlands? One of my all time favorite movies 🙂 C.S. Lewis is an inspiration to me as well…

    Liked by 2 people

  9. We can relate to your story and you tell it so well!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jennie says:

    Lovely, Mitch. Thank goodness for our senses that can bring back memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We all have a God sized hole that we long to fill. The times that we experience even a little of this we long for more. My English professor at college was a friend of CS Lewis and also lost his wife. He wrote a book about his experience called “A severe Mercy” The book contains otherwise unpublished letters by CS Lewis. I was blessed to have him for a teacher and mentor.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. karanoel says:

    So deep and incredibly beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s