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C. S. Lewis & My Birthday

C. S. Lewis at his desk at the Kilns in 1963

When I speak to children's groups about C. S. Lewis, I have been asked whether I met him. The answer is "no". But the timeline of our lives did overlap, ever so slightly. Lewis died on November 22, 1963 and I was born on August 12, 1963. 

This being my 52nd birthday, I thought it would be interesting to see what Lewis was doing on the day I was born....

In March 1963, Lewis made plans to visit his lifelong friend, Arthur Greeves, in Ireland. Lewis and his step-son, Douglas Gresham, were to cross the Irish Sea from England to Northern Ireland by ferry on the day of my birth. However, Lewis and Doug never made that journey. It had to be cancelled due to Lewis' heart condition. Then in July, Lewis' health worsened.

Lewis wrote to Arthur about this on 11 September, 1963....
Last July I had a 'coma' of about 24 hours and was believed to be dying. When I recovered consciousness my mind was disordered for many days and I had all sorts of delusions. Very quaint ones some of them, but none painful or terrifying. I have had to resign my Chair and Fellowship at Cambridge and now live here as an invalid; not allowed upstairs. But quite comfortable and cheerful. 
The only real snag is that it looks as if you and I shall never meet again in this life. This often saddens me v. much.... 
Tho' I am by no means unhappy I can't help feeling it was rather a pity I did revive in July. I mean, having been glided so painlessly up to the Gate it seems hard to have it shut in one's face and know that the whole process must some day be gone thro' again, and perhaps far less pleasantly! Poor Lazarus! But God knows best.
Thus, instead of journeying to Ireland on August 12, 1963, Lewis was writing to Cambridge, making arrangements for the disposition of his library and college furniture. Walter Hooper and Douglas Gresham made the journey to Cambridge a few days later to pack up Lewis' books.

Though I never had the privilege of meeting C. S. Lewis, my life has been blessed by knowing Walter Hooper and Doug Gresham. My life has been enriched, not only by reading the books that Lewis wrote, but also by reading many of the books from his library, some of which now reside at the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.

I have always enjoyed Lewis' letters, especially some of the ones he wrote in the last months of his life. On 31 September, 1963, Lewis wrote to a correspondent....
Thanks for your kind note. Yes, autumn is really the best of the seasons: and I'm not sure that old age isn't the best part of life. But of course, like Autumn, it doesn't last!
It sounds to me like Lewis was looking forward to heaven. As he said to his brother Warnie during his last days, "I have done all I wanted to do, and I'm ready to go." 

I hope that when I come to my final days I am able to face death with the same sense of peace Lewis had, and the same keen anticipation of everlasting life in Christ.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Happy Birthday!
Will Vaus said…
Thank you!

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