It’s a wonderfully rainy day. Heavy, slow teardrops that kerplunk on your clothes like miniature water balloons are interspersed with those thin sheets that stream slanted and steady. Both drench, but in such different ways. And the sky has that deep gray-blue hue off in the distance, promising this holed-up introvert that there’s more to come. No complaints here.
A few months back I read through C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy — Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. I expected to make it halfway through the first (at best) and then cast all three aside, as sci-fi books usually offer me no allure. But these came highly recommended by someone who’s book recommendations I take quite seriously, so I agreed to give them a shot…and loved them.
One of the many magical passages that I put in my back pocket relates to the weather. Or Weather, I should say. The dialogue is tucked in the beginning of the third book, That Hideous Strength, when three characters (a married couple and their aquaintence Jane) meet up over the lunch hour on a rainy day, and the couple suggests having a picnic in the forrest.
“Don’t you like a rather foggy day in a wood in autumn? You’ll find we shall be perfectly warm sitting in the car.” [married man]
Jane said she’d never heard of anyone liking fogs before but she didn’t mind trying. All three got in.
“That’s why Camilla and I got married, “said Denniston as they drove off. “We both like Weather. Not this or that kind of weather, but just Weather. It’s a useful taste if one lives in England.”
“How ever did you learn to do that, Mr. Denniston?” said Jane. “I don’t think I should ever learn to like rain and snow.”
“It’s the other way round,” said Denniston. “Everyone begins as a child by liking Weather. You learn the art of disliking it as you grow up. Noticed it on a snowy day? The grown-ups are all going about with long faces, but look at the children – and the dogs? They know what snow’s made for.”
“I’m sure I hated wet days as a child,” said Jane.
“That’s because the grown-ups kept you in,” said Camilla. “Any child loves rain if it’s allowed to go out and paddle about in it.”
As this passage illustrates, C.S. Lewis encouraged people to recover and maintain a playful and loving connection with their inner kiddos. I find it incredible how on the one hand his mind was so sophisticated and his beliefs so logically coherent, while on the other he was just like a little boy lost in awe of life’s many mysteries.
The Weather on rainy days like this reminds me that I too desire that type of balance: a mature mindset coupled with a childlike spirit of wonder. Do you like Weather?