In “Surprised by Joy”, CS Lewis reflects on weekends spent walking the countryside of Surrey and County Downs. This routine had a surprising effect on him. It changed him. He started to see the world differently. Of this experience he wrote,
“County Down in the holidays and Surrey in the term – it was an excellent contrast. Perhaps, since their beauties were such that even a fool could not force them into competition, this cured me once and for all of the pernicious tendency to compare and to prefer – an operation that does little good even when we are dealing with works of art and endless harm when we are dealing with nature. Total surrender is the first step towards the fruition of either. Shut your mouth, open your eyes and ears. Take in what is there and give no thought to what might have been there or what is somewhere else. That can come later, if it must come at all.”
This is a posture in life which is less concerned about personal preferences or what is not. It is recognising the beauty, significance and nobility of whatever we encounter. It could be argued that it could also be applied to whomever we encounter.
CS Lewis is not naively suggesting that these were the only beautiful places in the world, nor was he even suggesting that they were the most beautiful places in the world. But he is suggesting that he would never have enjoyed their beauty, had he not focussed on what they were, rather than what they were not.
Over and over again Jesus would have encounters with all sorts of people and He saw the beauty in them that his contemporaries failed to see. When the religious leaders saw only a sinful woman, a man who was a traitor, a person who was less unspiritual, another who was unclean or unfit for the things of God, Jesus saw people who were made in the image of God. People who had yearnings, hopes, dreams and great stories. People who were known and loved by God.
Who might you meet in your walk this week, and how might you choose to see them?