Favourite Lines: Paper Towns & A Grief Observed

I started a new job a few weeks ago. Now that I am done training, I have a better grasp on what my schedule will be like. Because I was so busy the past few weeks, I have not completed much reading. However, I did read John Green’s “Paper Towns” and C.S. Lewis “A Grief Observed.”

Honestly, I did not like Paper Towns. There was a point when I quickly moved through the book because I wanted to find out what happened to Margo, but besides the mystery it wasn’t my favourite read. Perhaps it was too teenage-like for me, the characters annoyed me often and so did their conversations. Also, I felt like many times Green tried to make the conversations all deep-ish by talking about the “string” and “seeing people” and “mirrors.” I got the metaphors, I got the message. Probably a great read for high-school kids, but I felt like I was past it.  Well I see the movie? Probably yes. I always enjoy seeing books come to life.

The only sentence I underlined…”Everything’s uglier close up.”

Then we have “A Grief Observed.” It’s a completely different read. Written by C.S. Lewis, famously known for his Chronicles of Narnia classics, this 89 page book reads like a journal, because it basically is. After loosing his wife to cancer, he writes about his journey dealing with grief. I read this book just the other evening when the snow was pouring down and a fire was crackling in the centre of the living room and I was cozied up with a cup of cinnamon coffee and my warm cat. What I love about this book is how real it is. His words feel raw, and page by page I can see how he is honestly dealing with his changing feelings about his wife’s death- his questions and anger and selfishness, and healing. For anyone who has experienced grief, you will identify with this book. And for anyone who’s had the luck to escape suffering, I would recommend you to read it just to get a peek inside the heart of a man who is. I want to share my favourite lines from this book, some are profound, some hit home, some surprised me, and others were quite simple. If you read the book, let me know what you thought.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.”

“Meanwhile, where is God?”

“Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”

“Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him.”

“I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate it if they do, and if they don’t.”

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”

“And that, just that, is what I cry out for, with mad, midnight endearments and entreaties spoken into the empty air.”

“What chokes every prayer and every hope is the memory of all the prayers H. and I offered and all the false hopes we had.”

“…there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it…”

“I had warned myself- not to reckon on worldly happiness. We were even promised sufferings. They were part of the programme.”

“If my house has collapsed at one blow, that is because it was a house of cards.”

“Nothing less will shake a man- or at any rate a man like me- out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs…only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.”

“What do people mean when they say ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never been to a dentist?”

“And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted.”

“…bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love…it is not a truncation of the process but one of its phases; not the interruption of the dance, but the next figure.”

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t…He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”

“Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again.”

“Tonight all the hells of young grief have opened again; the mad words, the bitter resentment, the fluttering in the stomach, the nightmare unreality…for in grief nothing ‘stays put’…round and round. Everything repeats.”

“The same leg is cut off time after time. The first plunge of the knife into the flesh is felt again and again.”

“I need Christ, not something that resembles Him.”

“I know perfectly well that he can’t be used as a road. If you’re approaching Him not as the goal but as a road, not as the end but as a means, you’re not really approaching Him at all.”


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