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Look Away (Into Heaven Fair)

I sang that song as a baritone (long before I really was a baritone) in 5th grade music class.  Ahhh, Ms. Patello.  She was a lovely woman.  I’m glad she was my teacher.  Apparently, after looking around on the Internets a bit for some lyrics or other tidbit about this song, I am one of about four people to sing it in the last 60 years.  I can’t even find a scrap of evidence that I’m not crazy.  The song exists!! I swear!

So, I began re-reading Dante‘s Divine Comedy in the last month or so (not quickly, obviously) simply to enjoy an image at the end of the final book, Paradiso.  At the end Dante sees (and describes) the Divine Trinity.  Dante (the fictional Dante, not the actual Dante), still obsessed with and in love with his Beatrice looks to her.  She is already much entranced by and in love with the Divine Beauty, Perfection and Good.  She, literally, cannot look away because her soul and will are so pure as to only wish to look upon the ever-changing, ever-perfect God as she circles in the closest Heavenly sphere.  Dante looks to her and, in the reflection of God in her eyes, finally (and for the first time, really, in the book at all), his eyes are directed to God because he sees the reflection of God in her eyes.  It is quite a stunning and beautiful image (written in poetry, no less!).  I’m not back to that image yet.  I believe I’m in Canto 7 of Paradiso at this point… Getting there!

Tonight, as I read A Grief Observed, I noticed a similar image.  I’m certain in retrospect it is probably a purposeful or at least subconscious reference to Dante by C.S. Lewis. I picked up A Grief Observed, several months ago following the end of my engagement.  I have heard and read that the end of a marriage or very long relationship is very similar to a death of a dear loved-one.  So, I knew of A Grief Observed, having attended a lecture series on that single book during undergrad, and respected C.S. Lewis greatly.  I thought I’d give it a go as a first thought.  I was not disappointed.

In any event, as I re-read through that work tonight, I came across a passage that said:

And, then, of her and of every created thing I praise, I should say, ‘In some way, in its unique way, like Him who made it.’

Thus, up from the garden to the Gardener, from the sword to the Smith.  To the life-giving Life and the Beauty that makes beautiful.

The clear allusion struck me. I always loved the image from Dante.  It stuck with me perhaps better than anything else I learned in undergrad (sad?).  I am hopeful that I will find another in this life whose eyes, heart and mind point the way to God so clearly as Beatrice did for Dante.

All our relationships are gifts.  As Mr. Lewis describes elsewhere in the book, perhaps the loss is just one more stage of the courtship that must be endured.  Even in the best of cases, assume you die holding hands with the one you love most in the world who dies simultaneously with you.  You both are still separated one from the other.  He strongly indicates he has no clear understanding of what exactly happens in the afterlife, but he’s sure that death is at least in one sense final.  What would be the point of going on together in a simply different form?  It wouldn’t make sense.

So, we all fall in love knowing that at some point in some way that love will be lost.  Neither of us are getting out of here alive, so to speak.  So, there’s an element of finality and mortality in every human relationship.  Life in the moment cannot be more important than that.  Realize that you share these moments at every moment with someone who is a gift from God that could be taken away at any time.

I also liked this little quote from C.S. Lewis:

You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears.

Ain’t that the truth.  I’ve felt that oh-so-strongly in the last year or so.  Hopefully, that has, for the most part, changed.

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