This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”. Lewis connection follows:
Scripture: “‘You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven’ “(Matt: 5, 14-16)
"The Savior tells His disciples how their light should shine for people, avoiding two extremes: the desire to intentionally show off this light, and the desire to hide it from people.
"He says that a city on a hill cannot be hidden, i.e. that in them there is a power which they could not hide even if they wished. This power manifests itself to people on its own and lets them feel as if there is a visible presence of something new.
"How can we understand this? How can we shine both consciously and unconsciously? Recognizing our power and at the same time denying it? The Lord resolves this difficulty. He teaches us to shine for others without ascribing anything to oneself, but giving all glory to God – “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven’ “.
"Let your power be the power of love, the power which dies on a daily basis in order to come alive in the life of another. Let the word of your Father in Heaven be your glory, His cares be your cares, and let your will unite with the will of the Father and be fully absorbed by it. Let His joy be your greatest joy, and may your greatest sorrow be to sadden him, and your greatest desire – to serve Him.
“And having achieved this you will truly shine for people like a star in a dark sky. You will be conductors of His light and a reflection of His Divine rays. Forgetting your own personal happiness, you will acquire a power you did not have before. People will marvel at your power, and you yourselves will marvel at it more than anyone, because your power will be one of humble submission, a power of those souls who crucify themselves through the power of love.”
The above brings to mind the conversation between a Bright Spirit and the Ghost who was a famous painter:
“When you painted on earth-at least in your earlier days – it was because you caught glimpses of
Heaven in the earthly landscape. The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see the
glimpses too…It is from here that the messages came… Light itself was your first
love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.”
“Oh, that’s ages ago,” said the Ghost. “One grows out of that. Of course, you haven’t seen my later
works. One becomes more and more interested in paint for its own sake.”
“One does, indeed. I also have had to recover from that. It was all a snare. Ink and catgut and paint
were necessary down there, but they are also dangerous stimulants. Every poet and musician and
artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling till, down in
Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him. For it
doesn’t stop at being interested in paint, you know. They sink lower-become interested in their own
personalities and then in nothing but their own reputations.”
And when the Ghost is told that he and his work have been forgotten on Earth, he immediately leaves the Spirit in order to try to restore his reputation on Earth, rather then trying to comprehend and enter into the essence of the source of the true Light.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)