Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18
“I am rather sick of the modern assumption that, for all events, ‘WE,’ the people, are never responsible: it is always our rulers, or ancestors, or parents, or education, or anybody but precious ‘US.’ WE are apparently perfect and blameless. Don’t you believe it.”
“How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing (and perhaps, like you, I have met it only once) it is irresistible.”
“He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart.”
- C. S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady
By the time this is posted, I should be finished reading C. S. Lewis’ Letters to an American Lady, a short book. I believe that I read in a Brenton Dickieson post, A Pilgrim in Narnia, about how Lewis tried to respond to all his correspondence. His brother helped, as mentioned in the letters – usually when C. S. Lewis had to do it on his own due to his brother’s absence. In this case, with the American Lady, he established a life-long friendship with someone he never met. Without having read the book, I had read, and even used, quotations from this book, a book that was never intended to be a book. It is a delightful treat and provides insight regarding things about Lewis that may not appear in his books.
As I was a quarter into the book, I noticed that the type of letters between Lewis and this unnamed lady (at her request) was very similar to the comments made at the end of blog posts. It might resemble comments made on some social media, but not as much.
That got me to thinking about the various people around the world that I consider friends. My wife would still state that they are not friends until you meet, face-to-face, but she communicates with old classmates on social media using her smartphone, with few social media friends that she’s never met, but a few. She never turns the computer on. She writes to a cousin in Holland by snail mail, sometimes waiting months for a reply.
In reading Lewis’ book, there are gaps of a few months, but then there are gaps of only a couple of weeks, even a little less. Lewis seemed to immediately drop his plan for the day to respond, apologizing for the short note when he was in a hurry. All this for someone he had never met.
The Apostle Paul had met the people that he corresponded with, at least some of them. It stands to reason that each church would grow in Paul’s absence. He had a special bond with them. In the Scripture above, he did not use a scribe. He wrote with his own hand. I wonder if his penmanship was as bad as Lewis’. Since Paul’s letters were sent by courier, it might take months to reach the destination.
When looking at the quotes used above from the book, I think I have used all three, but I am not sure. The first quote comes from a letter on May 30, 1953. Two letters later, in a letter dated 22 June 1953 (date format constantly changing), he is horribly confused with what his American friend has written. He had no intent, it seems, in quoting the preamble to the U. S. Constitution when he said, “We, the people.” He was just raising the concept that when something goes wrong, we blame everyone else and never hold ourselves accountable, in general, all around the world.
This is one of the problems with the book and other books of C. S. Lewis correspondence. You only read one half of the conversation. Context must be imagined, but in this case, you can see that an American would draw the conclusion that Lewis was picking on the USA specifically, and you might draw a conclusion that was not intended. Lewis simply poured out his heart to this woman, and he did so with urgency.
Paul had an urgency in writing his letters. Lewis had an urgency in responding to those who wrote to him. And most people who write blogs, at least among those that I call friends, respond quickly with a like when I make comments, and often with a replied comment. Ah, a conversation.
I want to thank God for each of you and I want to thank each of you for being friends, whether friends that I have met or those I will meet in another place and another time. And each of us must have that urgency to correspond, whether with my wife’s snail mail, e-mail, blog post comments, or social media.
Through our correspondence, we can show our love for others and express our love for God.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.