Friday, January 13, 2012

Eternity Will Color Our Memories of This Life

From C. S. Lewis's ingenious novel, The Great Divorce:

Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place.  I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.  (7)

That is what mortals misunderstand.  They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.  And of some sinful pleasure they say, ‘Let me but have this and I’ll take the consequences’: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of their sin.  Both processes begin even before death.  The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness.  And that is why, at the end of all things, … the Blessed will say, ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,’ and the Lost, ‘We were always in Hell.’  And both will speak truly.  (67-68)

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