Ms. Genia Goelz was the daughter of Mary Van Deusen, a long time correspondent with C. S. Lewis. In time Genia too would write to her mom’s pen-pal and friend.
On May 9, 1952, Ms. Goelz wrote to notify Lewis she was being confirmed in the Episcopal Church. She was excited, in Lewis words, “just a trifle too excited.” But something happened to Genia prompting her excitement and causing her to get involved in the church. On May 15, Lewis responds in a way that both encourages and cautions his young friend,
“It is quite right that you should feel that ‘something terrific’ has happened to you (it has) and be “all glowy.” Accept these sensations with thankfulness as birthday cards from God, but remember that they are only greetings, not the real gift. I mean, it is not the sensations that are the real thing. The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.”1
Greetings are great and gifts are wonderful. But like the parents of a soldier can testify, they are no replacement for having him with them. “The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” – John 14:16.
- Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, Vol. III (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 191.