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C.S. Lewis and the toy garden

One day, before he was six years old, C.S. Lewis' brother, older by "about three years," came into the nursery with the lid of a biscuit tin covered with moss and twigs and flowers.

"That was the first beauty I ever knew," Lewis was to recollect later, "... as long as I live my imagination of Paradise will retain something of my brother's toy garden..."

Fast forward many years. Now Lewis is on the faculty of Oxford, and he was a committed atheist -- not the least because of the trials he had experienced, coupled with his keen intellectual assessments of life's horrors and idiosyncrasies. All of this is documented in his autobiography Surprised by Joy.

But during those Oxford years, to Lewis' quiet aggravation, his atheist resolve was beginning to erode.

All his life he had been searching for an elusive something he called Joy. It occurred to him about this time that Joy itself was not the object of the search; Joy was always a pointer to something else:

"It is not I. I am only a reminder. Look! Look! What do I remind you of?"

Lewis' first encounter with beauty was a toy garden.


C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of my Early Life (New York: Harcourt, Inc, 1955), 6-7, 220


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