Real and Costly Love

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Pine Ridge Falls, Unicoi County

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of
possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest
and most uninteresting person you can talk to
may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now,
you would be strongly tempted to worship,
or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet,
if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree,
helping each other to one or other of these destinations.
It is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them,
that we should conduct all our dealings with one another,
all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal,
and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals
whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit —
immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.
This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.
We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind
(and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists
between people who have, from the outset,
taken each other seriously —
no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.
And our charity must be a real and costly love,
with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner —
no mere tolerance, or indulgence
which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.”

C. S. Lewis, 1898-1963


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