What We’re Really Looking For
True confession: I’m playing a lot of solitaire these days during Covid. Even after I read Tom Hanks’ inspiring article about how he wasted time playing solitaire, I kept playing. He offered a list of cool things he wished he’d done—yes, he was right. I kept playing. I was finally sledding in my parents’ lane (they were numbers people) even though I’m a word person. I love the challenge of having the odds stacked against me. Can I overcome them? I especially love “redeeming” a hopeless game and, if not winning it, at least making amazing progress. It’s a beautiful thing to pull something back from failure that looks doomed.
This not-so-unhealthy escape offers adventures in my isolation and replaces my lack of interaction with people. It keeps the other side of my brain firing. I reason that it’s better than non-stop snacking or online shopping.
But, says CS Lewis, even these good things are mere substitutes:
The books or the music (or computer games) in which we thought beauty was located will betray us if we trust them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking [our] hearts. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
We have not found that flower, or heard that tune, or visited that country yet because as CSL also says, we were “made for another world.”
The reality is that we are full of holy longing. We long for exquisite completion, full partnership, grounded peace, steady ecstasy. That comes only from a life with God. We will experience all of this when our life continues after so-called death. But even today, Jesus, the real Son of God “is actually at your side and is already at this moment beginning to turn your [holy longing] into reality” (CSL).
An adventurous, rich life is to come, but here and now, we are invited to participate in a “daily tasting of the love of God—a love that “is a divine life, an infinite energy, an irresistible power” (Andrew Murray). This is the holy longing—hidden but powerful–behind our pursuits to find satisfaction and experience joy.
And so I take longer pauses from playing Solitaire. Holy longing chases me. There is so much to smile about.
Grace and peace,