Thursday, March 19, 2009

Coffeegirl Book Club

Chapter 10 - Epilogue: The Second Death

I have often thought of going through this book and pulling out the various passages that talk about grief because Vanauken has detailed the experience so well – making distinctions between loss and grief, developing a holistic view of the lost person, grieving for specific things as well as their general presence, acknowledging the reality of simply being sad. And this chapter adds to those thoughts as his grief comes to an end – the stated ‘second death’ of the lost one.

The second death seems to be an indication of adjustment to me – when the loss (whatever it may be – a physical death or a move away from home) starts to feel somewhat normal and the emotions are not delicately tied up around the issue. I have certainly experienced a similar shift in the experience of grieving the losses that were left behind when we moved here, and I do believe that every loss, no matter how big or small, follows a similar pattern to what Vanauken described so well as he faced his grief head-on.

Both the dream of Davy’s visit and the walk in Lincoln when her presence felt so real were touching to me. Whether he and Lewis’ thoughts on the possible presence of the departed are indeed right, the experience of a very lifelike dream or a special moment of sheer contentment and comfort in the midst of a loss is quite powerful. Shortly after arriving here, I dreamt that I was waking up in my parents’ home with the sunlight pouring into the bedroom. The sense of comfort and security I had in that dream as I tucked under the sheets, soaked in the sun , smelled fresh-brewed coffee, and heard the voices of my family coming up the stairs was so very real that I awoke feeling as if I had really just been with them. My heart was full. The disappointment of realizing where I actually was brought me to tears moments later, but even now, that feeling of comfort returns when I think of that dream because that dream was so very real.

One of the excerpts from Lewis’ letters made me smile as he recounted the many prayers that had been said for Joy’s recovery. “I sometimes tremble when I think how good Joy and I ought to be: how good we would have promised to be if God had offered us these mercies at that price.” I found it comforting to think that even a man of Lewis’ intellect and faith would find himself promising many things to God if he would only answer this one prayer…

I loved the final passage of this book and thought it summarized a point that we have come back to time and again during these past 10 weeks: eternity.

But in my thoughts of her I come back again and again to that foretaste of eternity on the decks of Grey Goose: the timeless beauty and closeness of the night of the sea-fire. An image, not of the past but of what is to be.

With this week’s post focusing on the last chapter of the book, I would like to plan for one more “meeting of the book club” to post some reflections on the book as a whole – what you liked / didn’t like, what you learned, how God might have used it to challenge or encourage in your present circumstances, etc. I will be traveling this week and would like to have some extra time to think about the book as a whole, so let’s plan our last meeting in two weeks time. See you then!


Randy Furco said...


Love it..can't drink it.... :(

Jesus IS LORD!!!!

Becky Aguirre said...

I just finished the book yesterday, wow, just trying to take it all in...I thought his dream was very interesting, perhaps God's way of continuing to deal gently with him in his grief? I don't know, but it would be in keeping with the rest of their experiences...

I really enjoyed hearing a bit about C.S. Lewis' experiences with his wife as well, and how it made him relate more to Van and Davy...and I think it's true that there are patterns to grieving loss. I think it's good to be familiar with these patterns so that we can move through our grieving processes more easily, therefore being more emotionally healthy in our lives. Especially as people in full-time ministry...we seem to face many losses related to our lifestyle.

Hope you traveling time is good and see you next week!



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