By: Julia Somerset

The title of this post is from a poem by Charles Williams, who was a member of the Inklings, the famous literary group of friends that included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and other exceptional intellectuals. In this poem, Williams makes the point that the only way we can leave a meaningful legacy is through the people we love while we are alive. After we are gone, the way we altered their lives through our love and friendship will live on with them, and be passed on to others.

C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are two of my favorite authors, and when I think about how they were influenced by one another, this quotation takes on special meaning for me. They were both talented writers and thinkers, but we can never know the extent to which the brilliance of their work was a result of their relationship with each other and the friends with whom they wrote and thought. They challenged each other, made each other laugh, and provided things to think about that would have never otherwise crossed their minds.

Even if our work is a little less creative than theirs, our friends and loved ones have a wonderful power to make our work on earth better than it would be alone. It is easy to see the influence a powerful team can have when they work together, and a great team is always a gift. But when we think about this factor as Christians, it goes even deeper. Through the love we share with our neighbors, we are transformed eternally into better followers of God. When we are humble enough to watch and listen, all of our fellow men and women can teach us better ways to love God and each other.

Remember this in your interactions with friends, strangers, and family today. We carry our fellow persons’ legacies within ourselves by sustaining their influence in our own lives, long after they are gone. If the “everlasting house of the soul is in others,” we must see ourselves as that house—and other people as the houses in which we will live on.

The Inklings Vintage Reading Room