November 02, 2009

A Severe Mercy

This is a fantastic book!  I'm not sure how this book ended up on my bookshelf, but I am quite certain it will end up one of my all-time favorites.


Here's an excerpt I read last night that made me laugh at the truth of it.  Then I read it again and with a much deeper understanding, wholeheartedly agreed.  The author is speaking of himself as he tells of days gone by.

"He had been wont to despise emotions: girls were emotional, girls were weak, emotions- tears- were weakness.  But this morning he was thinking that being a great brain on a tower, nothing but a brain, wouldn't be much fun.  No excitement, no dog to love, no joy in the blue sky- no feelings at all.  But feelings- feelings are emotions!  He was suddenly overwhelmed by the revelation that what makes life worth living is, precisely, the emotions.  But then- this was awful!- maybe girls with their tears and laughter were getting more out of life.  Shattering!  He checked himself: showing one's emotions was not the thing: having them was.  Still, he was dizzy with the revelation.  What is beauty but something that is responded to with emotion?  Courage, at least partly, is emotional.  All the splendor of life.  But if the best of life is, in fact, emotional, then one wanted the highest, purest emotions: and that meant joy.  Joy was the highest... If there were a choice- and he suspected there was- a choice between, on the one hand, the heights and the depths and, on the other hand, some sort of safe, cautious middle way, he, for one, here and now chose the heights and the depths...

Since then the years had gone by, and he... had had the love.  And the joy- what joy it had been!  And the sorrow.  He had had- was having- all the sorrow there was.  And yet, the joy was worth the pain." 

Here's a short description from Amazon:

A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, is a heart-rending love story described by its author as "the spiritual autobiography of a love rather than of the lovers." Vanauken chronicles the birth of a powerful pagan love borne out of the relationship he shares with his wife, Davy, and describes the growth of their relationship and the dreams that they share. 
While studying at Oxford, Sheldon and Davy develop a friendship with C.S. Lewis, under whose influence and with much intellectual scrutiny they accept the Christian doctrine. As their devotion to God intensifies, Sheldon realizes that he is no longer Davy's primary love--God is. Within this discovery begins a brewing jealousy.   --Jacque Holthusen

1 comment:

Dan and Marcy said...

This is one of my favorites too - a premarital favorite recommend...