Friday, November 6, 2009

Drinking Light and Munching on Rubies

One thing I have loved in C.S. Lewis’ fiction is his creative imagery, especially how he mixes up the five senses, like tasting or eating what normally is only seen or touched. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lewis describes “drinkable light,” and in The Silver Chair he talks about “live” and “growing” gems that can be eaten:

The King took the bucket in both hands, raised it to his lips, sipped, then drank deeply and raised his head. His face was changed. Not only his eyes but everything about him seemed to be brighter.

“Yes,” he said, “it is sweet. That’s real water, that. …It—it’s like light more than anything else,” said Caspian.

“That is what it is,” said Reepicheep. “Drinkable light.”

--The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

“I have heard of those little scratches in the crust that you Topdwellers call mines. But that’s where you get dead gold, dead silver, dead gems. Down in Bism we have them alive and growing. There I’ll pick you bunches of rubies that you can eat, and squeeze you a cupful of diamond juice. You won’t care much about fingering the cold, dead treasures of your shallow mines after you have tasted the live ones in Bism.”
--The Silver Chair

Both quotes conjure up such lovely images. They make me want to taste “drinkable light” and munch on “bunches of rubies.”

I think one reason these images are so powerful is that Lewis is actually describing something deeper than the surface items. At least, I feel the images at a deeper level. When I read “drinkable light,” I think of the sacramental wine or water, of how Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and of how by partaking of the sacramental emblems of his death, I am taking His light into me. Therefore, the sacramental water is drinkable light. (See Note #1.)

And as for the precious metals and minerals that are so highly prized by man, I realize how much value we place on these “dead” elements that we can only touch and usually keep under lock and key. While they are definitely valuable, their value is temporal only; we cannot take this wealth with us when we die. It seems to me that if we were able to “eat” precious live metals and minerals, their beauty and value would become a part of our very beings, increasing the value of our bodies and most probably increasing our internal beauty as well. We would be valued for ourselves rather than our possessions. And after all, isn’t this the message of the Gospel? It is the value of souls that is great in the sight of God.

Note #1: Elder Dallin H. Oakes of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave an excellent talk about Jesus being “The Light and Life of the World.” His talk may be accessed at:

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