Monday, December 08, 2008

There Are No Ordinary People

Something that was said in church on Sunday reminded me of a quote from C.S. Lewis. I looked it up when we got home and it was even better than I remembered it. (It's from The Weight of Glory.)

"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 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 in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, 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, civilization - 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 splendors. 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....Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses."

To the list of the things we do with our fellow humans, I would add "teach," as at this point in the semester it is easy to lose all patience with excited, sugar-addled, Christmas-anticipating middle schoolers. This passage is a great reminder to me of what exactly we are dealing with when we spend time with other people.


Andy and Lizet Bowen said...

What a great way to start my day. Thank you for this stunning quote.

Janet said...

Funny. I just quoted this same passage on my blog. :-)

Ruth said...

Heh - so you did. That must have been why it was fresh in my mind. How funny that I didn't even remember that was where I had read it most recently!