“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.” ~ C.S. Lewis, Till We All Have Faces
It’s insane to me how little we know or understand ourselves. Why would God design us such that the larger portion of our true self lies hidden away beneath our conscious mind? Perhaps it is a result of the Fall. But maybe not. Maybe it’s just another example of the veiled nature of life we find everywhere.
Evil is veiled. God is veiled. Beauty is veiled. Goodness is veiled. Love is veiled. Intimacy is veiled. Glory, in all of its expressions, is veiled. So is darkness, and all that is profane. Nothing either brilliant or utterly desolate is ever really fully “there,” completely revealed or laid bare in its manifestation. It’s always a glimpse, a peak behind a curtain, quickly lost, a projection of something that holds a taste of the real thing, but isn’t that real thing itself.
That’s why when we’re confronted with Beauty it fills us with longing. On some fundamental level we know there’s more, that somehow what we’re seeing, however glorious or grand, is only an appetizer and not the banquet feast for which our souls hunger.
It’s also why in every horror we witness we search for the glimmer of good in the depth of it. The noble man who died shielding a young mother from a terrorist bomb. The resilience of a young girl to forgive the sick man who brutally raped her. It comforts us to know the darkness we see is never complete, just as it hurts us to know the glory we see never is either.
Perhaps it is the same with us. Perhaps we are veiled even from ourselves to keep us humble and full of longing, and so to inspire our thirst to uncover the deeper truth of everything, not only of God and Beauty and Love and Evil, but also of who and what we truly are.
Maybe all of life is designed to be full of longing and mystery – to draw us toward the Good, protect us from the full effects of evil, and remind us in every beautiful sunset and every tender kiss that this is not our true and final home.
So why am I the way I am? I don’t know. Who is the man I really am beneath the veil of my conscious awareness? I don’t know. I walk with myself through this life as if with a stranger with whom I am desperately in love. I long for my true self as I long for my soulmate or even for God. I am here in my own breath but never fully expressed. I am the song in the distance. I am the reflection in the eyes of my lover as she passes by me in the hall. I am the one dancing between these words, playfully coaxing me toward grand adventures.