Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Secret Thread

This morning I received an email from a dear friend who shared this quote with me. It's so deep and profound (and long) that I'm not going to comment on it. Soak it in with me....

“You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw -- but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported. Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of -- something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat's side? Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it -- tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest -- if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself -- you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say "Here at last is the thing I was made for". We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.” - C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Photo by Appalachian Encounters, courtesy Flickr Creative Commons


  1. Wow. That was beautiful...and thought-provoking. I feel like I understand it, though I couldn't put it into words!

  2. Wow.
    That is amazing!!

    Like Kiersti said, I feel like I can understand that, but putting it into words is so difficult.

    Love this.

  3. That's one reason why the Rogue Riters, and then the Yadas could be such a diverse bunch of women, but we loved words, all in a different manner, and the Lord, even tho in different ways... but those two bonds were enough to meld us. Even when friends moved, either across an ocean or just the state--the bonds could hold. And we didn't lightly bring others into the groups, as it wouldn't work. I felt safe enough bringing a zany dear Kiwi to you all---and that worked. But she was the only one I brought in in 15 yrs or so... I love that scarlet thread--and I love CS Lewis!

  4. It's a bit like that quote that talks about the secret part of you "where dreams may come." Nicely said, Lori!

  5. Signatures of the soul! I love that. And I love it whenever Lewis writes about Sehnsucht...those hungers being beautiful clues into the hardwiring of our hearts...!

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. I admire Lewis greatly for finding these words, even though it takes a lot of pondering to wrap my mind around them. They are sensed and felt with the heart rather than the brain, I think.

    Love all your comments! Thanks for soaking up this passage from Lewis's book with me.

  7. What a beautiful quote. That yearning…that longing we all sense. I'm listening the C.S. Lewis at War, a Focus on the Family Radio Theater production which also includes a wonderful British narrator reading Mere Christianity. I've always admired C.S. Lewis and I've really enjoyed listening to the story behind this book, and now the book itself. It's based on the radio talks he gave during WW2 over the BBC. They were given to help the nation through the war by explaining the faith in simple yet profound ways. Lots to ponder. : )

    1. I've never heard of that production, Carrie. I'd love to hear it. I'll look for it. Thanks so much for mentioning it. He was such a deep thinker and I've admired his writings since childhood. The Narnia books were some of my early favorites.