Walter Hooper met C.S. Lewis in Oxford, England at The Kilns – C.S. Lewis’ home – in June of 1963. I met Walter Hooper a few summers ago at that same place.
As a young man, Walter traveled across the pond to meet the author who deeply influenced and inspired him. As a middle-aged woman, I too traveled across that same pond to study the author who deeply influenced and inspired me. I studied at the C.S. Lewis Institute. And, when I arrived, I received a treasure I never expected … I met Walter Hooper!
Walter Hooper is a gentleman in the truest sense. At age 83, he is mannerly and articulate, charming and witty. A native of North Carolina, he now lives in Oxford England. He is a soft-spoken gentlemen with the most delightful southern accent mixed with a tinge of jolly old England!
I gathered with a group of fellow Lewis cronies at the Kilns as part of the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute. We sipped tea and had the privilege of listening to Walter share many stories about his time with Lewis.
So much about Walter struck me. Did you know he was Lewis’ last private secretary? He knew intimately the work of Lewis. His deference struck me in my deep place. For over 40 years, Walter has dedicated himself to preserving and promoting C.S. Lewis’ work as a literary executor and trustee for the estate of C.S. Lewis. He has edited about 30 pieces of Lewis work posthumously.
I’m convinced many people would not even know C.S. Lewis if not for Walter’s work and loyalty. Yet, I bet most people don’t even know Walter Hooper.
As he shared, I could tell his genuine affection for Lewis. As our group gathered round about him, riveted by each word he spoke, he sought no praise nor did he solicit any interest in himself. It was as if he received personal satisfaction as he generously shared stories and insights (many of which I am certain he was sharing for the millionth time) just to make us love Lewis as much as he did. But, I don’t think his deference was solely that of an admirer.
It was as if Walter saw the value in life – in Lewis’ life and in each life. Maybe he really took to heart what Lewis wrote:
[Click to Tweet]
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals that we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors …
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat, the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”
(From The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis)
I don’t think Walter saw Lewis as extraordinary solely because he had a brilliant mind. I think he saw him as extraordinary because he was a man within whom the glory of God dwelt. He deferred to him not because he was a world famous author, but because he saw him as “the holiest thing presented to his senses.” And honestly, that’s how Walter made me feel too.
Meeting Walter Hooper and seeing his admiration for Lewis made me think … how do I perceive the people in my world? Ordinary? Or extraordinary?
Could you begin to look for the divine – the immortal – in the “ordinary” people you see? What if your spouse, your child, or your most annoying relationship was really the “holiest object presented to your senses” today? How might you treat them differently?
For me, Walter Hooper is a guide who helped me understand the depth of C.S. Lewis, and that’s why I put his companion book into the Ultimate C.S. Lewis Swag Bag. And, C.S. Lewis has been a guide to Christ throughout different seasons of my life. I do hope you get to know them both, too!
Friends, I’m glad you joined me today for my birthday bash! I love talking about C.S. Lewis, and I love even more that you are here with me. Be sure to enter the contest below … good luck!
Question: Who is one of your heroes? What do you admire most about him or her?