I just finished reading a Severe Mercy and it is easily one of the best book I’ve EVER read. It can be a difficult read if you aren't accustomed to reading a book with a lot of detailed imagery. However, if you can get past that you’ll enjoy a wonderful gift.
The book is about the love story between Sheldon Vanauken and his wife Jean ‘Davy’ Vanauken but it is about more than a love story. It is about the motivating factor behind love. I am no connoisseur of love stories but this was one I could believe in. This was a love that pointed to the source of love.
They fell in love while atheists and created all kinds of elaborate schemes for securing their love. In fact one chapter titled “The Shining Barrier (the Pagan Love)” highlights these rules.
The attempt at securing their love was noble. They ended up having some questions and turned to the one and only C.S. Lewis for direction. Lewis was instrumental in their life and this book contains copies of letters he had written to Sheldon and Davy.
I had to pause many times and meditate upon what I had just read. CS Lewis is succinct. If he had a blog, it wd. contain few words w/ v. deep thoughts.
Here are a few quotes which I highlighted:
“One who has never been in love might mistake either infatuation or a mixture of affection and sexual attraction for being in love. But when the ‘real thing’ happens, there is no doubt. A man in the jungle at night, as someone said, may suppose a hyena’s growl to be a lion’s; but when he hears the lion’s grown, he knows damn well it’s a lion. So with the genuine inloveness. So with Davy and me. A sudden glory.” Pg. 29
“Our love of course seemed to us a miracle. First love always does the old, old story sung by poets and sneered at by wrinkled of heart. And yet it is a miracle, an unbelievable miracle, just as every springtime of the earth is a miracle.” Pg. 30
“What we did see was that jealousy is fear: it can corrode even if quite baseless.” Pg. 32
“Over-valued possessions, we decided, were a burden, possessing their owners.” Pg. 33
“But death is no respecter of love.” Pg. 44
“The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians – when they are somber and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths.” Pg. 85
“Some people run away from grief, go on world cruises or move to another town. But they do not escape, I think. The memories, unbidden, spring into their minds, scattered perhaps over the years. There is, maybe, something to be said for facing them all deliberately and straightaway. ” Pg. 195
“All our most lovely moments are perhaps timeless.” Pg. 201
“Disobedience is not the way to get nearer to the obedient.” Pg. 210
Check it out if you need another book to read.
This is a great website for more information. http://www.willvaus.com/sheldon_vanauken