December 26, 1993 [Shadowlands]

Joy and Jack Lewis leave the Shadowlands at last, the uncertain, in-between place--and if not "at last," at least for a moment, there in the Golden Valley come alive from inside the picture that hung on his nursery wall, one childish thing he was smart not to put away; and they kiss like lovers, wet from spring rain while clouds glide across the green like memories hurrying to join the present--and she tells him that the pain later is part of the happiness now--but he turns his head, once more like a little boy, because who wants to hear that?  Who wants to suffer?

--Lewis did, once upon a time, as though Narnia didn't stand for anything except an idea: He told the ladies' clubs that suffering is a wonderful gift from God, and we should be thankful that He wants us to grow up, love and be loved.  And then of course he's surprised by Joy--not on a hill but in a Valley, with Shadows.  And it makes his face screw up like passion--the kind whose release is forsaken death.

--But his student's father says we read to know that we are not alone, so I read that look on Lewis' face and my own follows--and I understand when he says that he prays because he can't help himself, that it changes him, not God, because the change waits, like the pain later--and later, last of all, Lewis tells us that he chooses suffering, that the pain now is part of the happiness then--and saying that, telling it to us directly, he flips time on its head and reminds me of a promise: that "happiness then" may mean that pain does rouse us--as any problem does, any that needs solving.  And I surprise those I love by suddenly leaving the typewriter and hugging them up like a goofy bear, foolish tears welling in my eyes as I turn away from them and make a joke and take off, wandering outside just in time to hear a bird rustle in a bush nearby and shake a branch as it shifts to get a better look at me.


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