In a story related in Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis, the author, as a young boy, experiences that flash of joy and wonder upon viewing a miniature garden. In much of his writings, Lewis describes that intense longing that feeds the desire for something more. Inside each of us is a hunger for something we often can’t name. Some might call it love. It could be beauty. But it is the thing that in itself is evidence there is something more, as well as the thing that draws us to seek for it.
But what of the miniature garden? What is it that speaks to us in pangs of longing in unexpected times? Most who write about Lewis attribute so many “stabs of joy” to the literature he loved, the poems of the pre-modernists. But I can only focus on the miniature garden—that illustrates that it’s often the small thing that calls to the deepest part of us. The image or reflection of something that will ultimately satisfy everything in us. The thing that will make us stop along the trail, take a deep breath, and say “This is everything I’ve ever wanted—everything I will ever need,” the moment passing too quickly.
I take a moment to sit back on my heels, my hands covered in dirt, the moist sweet smell of North Carolina riding the slight movement of air that bounces a strand of hair above my cheek, and I know this hunger again.