Iconoclastic: reflections on A Grief Observed

I had to look that word up. C.S. Lewis does that to me – makes me look up words. And it’s a good one. Iconoclastic. It means “attacking or ignoring cherished beliefs and long-held traditions, etc.,as being based on error, superstition, or lack of creativity…”

In A Grief Observed, Lewis dives into the necessity of shattering our false ideas about God.

“My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence?”

And, of course, the main subject of the book is Lewis’ grieving the death of his wife. Therefore the following relates to the image and ‘cherished beliefs’ we have of people being shattered, particularly of loved ones. He wrestles with the fear of loving the memory of her rather than her herself. He loved her iconoclastic reality.

“All reality is iconoclastic. The earthly beloved, even in this life, incessantly triumphs over your mere idea of her. And you want her to; you want her with all her resistances, all her faults, all her unexpectedness.”

Can I swoon for a second? I want a love like that. Love that cherishes the reality of who you are and not the mere idea of you. To have the freedom to contradict the idea of yourself, and still be loved, and loved even more for being real. ❤ How many of us have lost love for not being “what I thought you were” ? Surely then, we were in love with an idea rather than a person.

If indeed we love people and God rather than our ideas of them, it is a relief when our ideas are shattered. What a relief to be shown where we are wrong! Oh, God, I didn’t know! And now “I have come to misunderstand a little less completely,” (Lewis) What a blessing it is to get that much closer to You by destroying my false ideas about You!

“And all this time I may, once more, be building with cards. And if I am He will once more knock the building flat. He will knock it down as often as proves necessary.”

And at the possibility of being even better understood by his wife after her death, he did not shrink back – confident in her love. 

“For this is one of the miracles of love; it gives – to both, but perhaps especially to the woman – a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.”

And this intimate knowledge and love is what our Savior Jesus Christ possesses for us.

“His love and His knowledge are not distinct from one another, nor from Him.”

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