My favorite book by C.S. Lewis is easily The Four Loves, wherein Lewis discusses the significance of each of the four loves – Affection, Eros, Friendship, and Charity – and the differences between them. The chapter on Friendship alone is worth the price of the book and is a chapter that I have read several times and continue to learn from. Lewis explains that Friendships are formed when one person – who takes interest in some hobby, sport, or cause – discovers another person who shares the same interest. In other words, friends discover one another by means of a mutual interest in something outside themselves.
More specifically, Lewis points out that “lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.” He explains that any experience is more enjoyable when a friend shares in it because not only do you experience something you love through your own eyes, but you also see it through your friend’s eyes as he experiences it, reacts to it, and talks about it as well. Your ability to see something and enjoy it in its fullness is increased when there are others to see it, discuss it, and share in it with you.
Lewis goes on to say that “Friendship exhibits a glorious ‘nearness by resemblance’ to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God.” What he means is that my own love for and fascination with God in heaven will be increased by the fact that I will be in the company of friends who are also captivated by His glory, each friend in awe of some other aspect of God’s beauty. Lewis points to Isaiah 6:3 where we see an Old Testament picture of this. The seraphs who worship before God “are crying ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ to one another!” God intends for us to experience His glory alongside our friends because, in that kind of sharing, we see a more complete picture of Him and enjoy Him all the more.
All that to say that I was very grateful to have Daniel Weatherby join me on my most recent hike up to the fire tower atop Shuckstack Mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I could have easily appreciated the snow-lined Appalachian Trail, the amazing views of Fontana Lake, and the rusty and respectable 77-year-old tower on a solo hike by myself. Sometimes that’s what’s needed. But this hike affirmed everything that Lewis had said about the benefits of journeying with a friend. It was all the more enjoyable because I also experienced the whole thing from someone else’s perspective. Hiking Shuckstack and climbing its tower was another foretaste of the good stuff that’s ahead, namely, the shared experience of the glory of God in His new creation!
The View from Shuckstack Fire Tower