Belief has always been a puzzle to me. I just don’t understand how people are able to do it. And the afterlife. Of course your parents are alive in your memories and dreams (and how nice that the dreams are good ones, that’s got to mean something). But that’s hardly the same as an actual continuing spiritual existence. And how often I’ve wished my mom and stepmom were able to “see” my kids somehow. Funny, I love the writing of C.S. Lewis but how an intelligent man could think all that imaginary stuff (I mean God, of course, not Narnia) was real? And yet many very intelligent men and women have believed it and do believe it. Have we got a part missing, or are we atheists just more realistic about the universe?
After I came back from dropping kids off at school in the rain, I suddenly really felt like reading this. It doesn’t help, but at least it’s a beautiful expression of our inability to comfort ourselves.
The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Agaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.