I have read Shadow Lands once and seen the movie with Anthony Hopkins several times.  It is a story of a man who falls in love with a woman who latter dies of cancer. She has a young son from a previous marriage. The Hopkins character, C.S. Lewis, who is also the author, expresses the sentiment that he sees no purpose for grief.


Grief is a feeling. It is how we cope with loss on an emotional level.  For a man like Lewis to become so wounded to actually make that statement haunted me for a long time.  This is a true story and I am sure that Lewis wrote it to help him come to terms with this very personal loss.


Let me divert a little and express my own thoughts of life in general.  We are born and each of us is the center of his own universe.  All children are self-centered.  It is something that we out grow when we find another person to love and marry.  God gives us children so that we can learn to love selflessly.  The idea is to eventually learn to love everyone.  Few of us make it to that level.


Not being self-centered means to realize that the world and other people do not revolve around us.  Others are not merely actors in our story any more that we only exist in theirs, as if we were characters in a dream and our lives end when the dreamer wakes. A person can relate a tale without being the central character in the story, as in Somerset Maugham the Razor’s Edge.  Maugham was in his own novel, but he wasn’t even a main character.


This is what C.S. Lewis did when he wrote Shadow Lands.  I am certain that later he came to realize what I came to realize, Shadow Lands is not about Lewis’s loss.  The tale is a story of a single mother who is dying and finds love along the way with a man whose own mother died when he was young. 


God provides a father for a boy who had also lost his mother as a boy.  What could be a better solution?  Grief is for the purpose of empathy.  God joins two people, both of whom had lost their mothers in their youth.  For God to find a father for this boy and bring them together across an ocean and have him uniquely qualified to minister from personal experience, is nothing less than a miracle.


The next time we are hurting perhaps we should ask, “Whose story is this; is there someone else involved who needs our help?”