He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realized what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not ‘Who are you?’ but ‘So it was you all the time.’ All that they were and said at this meeting woke memories. The dim consciousness of friends about him which had haunted his solitudes from infancy was now at last explained; that central music in every pure experience which had always just evaded memory was now at last recovered…
—C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
I want an afterlife like my life has been: one like Revelation 7:9, a great multitude of diverse people existing together in love of each other and their Creator. It’s not up to me to say who qualifies.
…Not ‘Who are you?’ But ’So it was you all the time….I found these words sometime last week, scribbled on the corner of a page in a notebook I took from my bag. I have no idea where I originally discovered them and thought enough of them to write them down with another note beside them that said—context? I discovered the Screwtape Letters reference this morning after reading the full article from which the second quotation is excerpted.
I have tried out several responses to Heidi Hall’s article about her familial rejection; the creative and persistent beckoning of religion and Love; the making of her own family; the revelation of a doorway through which she could walk upright and dignified into the arms of Love and find her people waiting, loving and being loved themselves while waiting for all that she brought into the room and laying witness to the journey that would ultimately take her home.
I have tried. And I keep coming back to C.S. Lewis.
When we are loved for who we are, the glory and the mess; when we are appreciated, seen, noticed, called forth, and allowed to simply Be; when we are welcomed without question and when we are sometimes prodded with caring intention; when others can tell we are in right relation with what fills and surrounds us; there is little question of who.
Who brought us there; who abides in the hearts and homes of those who welcome; who nourishes the streams of understanding that refresh us; who calls to our best self and says Rise, come Forth, Live; who walks with, laughs with, weeps with, and holds; who says Yes, that’s right, I made you, body and mind, and you too are wonderfully made and honourable and I love you.
It was you all the time…
Rest in peace, Heidi Hall… welcome home again. And may we all rest in this sustaining wonder, this consolation, this mystery.