Monday, September 25, 2006

Lewis on vulnerability

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven* where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."

- C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960), 138-39

I thought this quote was apt to follow the ones from Bonhoeffer and Kierkegaard recently posted. All three invoke the necessity of engagement and the impossibility of cool detachment as our basic stance towards life.
*Of course, Lewis's reference to 'Heaven' needs to be taken with the same grain of salt that this passage advises us to take regarding Augustine's advice about not loving anything except God too much lest our hearts be broken. For a fuller discussion, see this post with some of my thoughts on heaven..