Last night I finished the brief writings C.S. Lewis penned after the loss of his wife, Joy. How I ended up checking this particular book out at the local library is a story for another day. Packed inside the brief 76 pages there is more wisdom than I have probably successfully communicated in the 633 posts that make up this little website to date.

If I this had been my own copy of the book, I might’ve underlined the entire manuscript from start to finish. And there would’ve been no less than thirty-seven stars in the margins.

Originally published under the pseudonym of N.W. Klerk, within the four brief chapters Lewis very honestly writes his heart onto the pages as he works through the grief of the loss of his wife, and considers how the new life he must live on the other side of hers affects his understanding of God.


Although I expect many of the profound lessons in these brief pages will come up in conversations here at a later date, I wanted to share one specific thought that meant a great deal to me.

Lewis discusses how he initially was very angry that he couldn’t find any photographs of his wife that properly captured her likeness. It was a great trouble to his mind that he might remember her the way his mind wanted to remember her, rather than the way she really was.

Later he says, “It doesn’t matter that all the photographs of H. are bad. It doesn’t matter–not much–if my memory of her is imperfect. Images, whether on paper or in the mind, are not important for themselves. Merely links. Take a parallel from an infinitely higher sphere. Tomorrow morning a priest will give me a little round, thin, cold, tasteless wafer. Is it a disadvantage–is it not in some ways an advantage–that it can’t pretend the least resemblance to that with which it unites me?

I need Christ, not something that resembles Him. I want H., not something that is like her. A really good photograph might become in the end a snare, a horror, and an obstacle.” (p. 65)

He draws from this new understanding a lesson that I had to read and re-read:

“My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast.”

{Note to reader, just in case: Iconoclasm is the deliberate rejection or destruction of religious symbols as heretical. An iconoclast is a person who destroys those symbols (often statues or images).}

The text continues:

“Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence? The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins.” (p. 66)

Isn’t it such an impressive and confuzzling paradox that the very God that we worship is the one who shatters our previous images of Him? Our finite minds simply cannot contain the significant other-ness of God. Whenever we think we’ve got Him pinned, there He goes, telling the one who is without sin to cast the first stone, asking Zacchaeus to come down from the tree, telling me to go drink a beer with an old friend.

Has God shattered an image you had of Him lately? If He wanted to would you let Him?

Thank you, C.S. Lewis, for choosing to write your way through grief. What a gift to me, and to many.



  • I’m planning to share an example of a shattering tomorrow, if you’d like a little practical evidence of what I’m talking about.
  • You can probably pick up a copy of A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis at your local library. It is also available at Amazon: A Grief Observed. {So ya know: Clicking that link should take you to the book at Amazon. Buying the Book should send me a tiny kickback.}