When I was a child, my bedroom was an upstairs windowless closet with a slanted roof. There was barely room for a bed to the left and a dresser to the right. A lonely light bulb hung from the ceiling. My dresses floated from a pole across the ceiling. Don’t think Dickensian: I loved my own cozy cocoon.
The room was at the top of a stairway that had two ninety-degree turns. As the youngest in a home where parents sent their littles to bed at 8:00 p.m., I often sensed that I was missing out on the important stuff of life. I’d hear the murmur of conversations that I wanted to be part of. I would tiptoe out of my bedroom and down the five steps to the landing where the stairs turned. As close as could be and still remain out of sight. Hugging my benightgowned knees, I would strain to hear the grownups talk.
Even when I didn’t understand the talk, I enjoyed the aura, the camaraderie. When laughter erupted, I sat in the darkness and smiled.
That, my friend, is how I feel reading C.S. Lewis’ academic work The Allegory of Love. I’m sitting in the dark, listening to the adults, not quite understanding all the fine points, but basking in the atmosphere. Smiling when I grasp a point, soaking up the delicious banter.
Happy to be in the company of such witty erudition.
Like that little girl long ago, I need patience. Lewis quotes Latin, Greek, French, Old French, Old English without translation. He writes about writers whose names I’ve never before heard. He uses words that have never come close to my radar.
Sometimes the words are clear. It was the misfortune of Jean de Meun to have read and remembered everything: and nothing that he remembered could be kept out of his poem. Yeah, I think, I’ve heard sermons like that.
So I will continue sitting in the dark, craning my ear, hoping to hear something wonderful. Why? Because I’m stubborn; but mainly to be in the delightful company of CSL.