Another Excerpt from Narnia

But how could it be true, sir?” said Peter.

“Why do you say that?” asked the Professor.

“Well, for one thing,” said Peter, “if it was real why doesn’t everyone find this country every time they go to the wardrobe? I mean, there was nothing there when we looked; even Lucy didn’t pretend there was.”

“What has that to do with it?” said the Professor.

“Well, sir, if things are real, they’re there all the time.”

“Are they?” said the Professor; and Peter did not know quite what to say.

“But there was no time,” said Susan. “Lucy had had no time to have gone anywhere, even if there was such a place. She came running after us the very moment we were out of the room. It was less than a minute, and she pretended to have been away for hours.”

“That is the very thing that makes her story so likely to be true,” said the Professor. “If there really is a door in this house that leads to some other world (and I should warn you that this is a very strange house, and even I know very little about it)—if, I say, she had got into another world, I should not be at all surprised to find that the other world had a separate time of its own; so that however long you stayed there it would never take up any of our time. On the other hand, I don’t think many girls of her age would invent that idea for themselves. If she had been pretending, she would have hidden for a reasonable time before coming out and telling her story.”

“But do you really mean, sir,” said Peter, “that there could be other worlds—all over the place, just round the corner—like that?”

“Nothing is more probable,” said the Professor, taking off his spectacles and beginning to polish them, while he muttered to himself, “I wonder what they do teach them at these schools.”

“But what are we to do?” said Susan. She felt that the conversation was beginning to get off the point.

“My dear young lady,” said the Professor, suddenly looking up with a very sharp expression at both of them, “there is one plan which no one has yet suggested and which is well worth trying.”

“What’s that?” said Susan.

“We might all try minding our own business,” said he. And that was the end of that conversation.

From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Compiled in A Year with Aslan

Another Narnia Moment

For those tired of all the politics and misinformation being bandied about and passing as news, I bring you a Narnia moment from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. You’re welcome.

“‘Ooh!” said Susan, ‘I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.’

‘That you will, dearie, and no mistake,’ said Mrs. Beaver; ‘if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.’

‘Then he isn’t safe?’ said Lucy.

‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you’ (C. S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe).

 

A Narnia Moment Brought to You By WordPress

I’m sharing one of my favorite Narnia moments with you from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

“‘They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps has already landed.’

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning— either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer” (C. S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe).

 

Further Up and Further In

It’s time once again for a little snippet of Narnia, in case you were weary of all the fear-mongering and misinformation (on both sides) that passes for news these days.

“‘Peter,” said Lucy, ‘where is this, do you suppose?’ . . . “If you ask me,” said Edmund, ‘it’s like somewhere in the Narnian world. Look at those mountains ahead—and the big ice-mountains beyond them. Surely they’re rather like the mountains we used to see from Narnia, the ones up Westward beyond the Waterfall?’. . .

‘And yet they’re not like,’ said Lucy. ‘They’re different. They have more colors on them and they look further away than I remembered and they’re more . . . more . . . oh, I don’t know . . .’

‘More like the real thing,’ said the Lord Digory softly. . . .

‘But how can it be?’ said Peter. ‘For Aslan told us older ones that we should never return to Narnia, and here we are.’

‘Yes,” said Eustace. ‘And we saw it all destroyed and the sun put out.’

‘And it’s all so different,’ said Lucy.

‘The Eagle is right,’ said the Lord Digory. ‘Listen, Peter. When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream.’ His voice stirred everyone like a trumpet as he spoke these words: but when he added under his breath ‘It’s all in Plato, all in Plato: bless me, what do they teach them at these schools!’ the older ones laughed. It was so exactly like the sort of thing they had heard him say long ago in that other world where his beard was grey instead of golden. He knew why they were laughing and joined in the laugh himself. But very quickly they all became grave again: for, as you know, there is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes. . . .

It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried:

‘I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!'” (C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle).

Revisiting The Silmarillion

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It’s been a while, but I’m back.

Much like people who revisit familiar places as vacation destinations, I’m going back to revisit a favorite book series of mine, starting with The Silmarillion.

A primer is in order first. The Silmarillion is like Middle Earth 101 (or to risk being a little sacrilegious, the Middle Earth Bible). It starts with the creation of all things and progresses from there.

If you love The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, this is where it all started. Literally. J. R. R. Tolkien began working on this manuscript way before The Hobbit and worked on it continuously until he died. His son, Christopher, published it  four years after Tolkien’s death.

It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s Wagnerian in its scope and not quite as warm and friendly as The Hobbit or LOTR. I don’t see how anyone could adapt this into a feature film (though I imagine someone will make an attempt in the near future).

I could have titled this blog post “Yes, I am a Nerd (and Thanks for Noticing).” I don’t mind. I can think of very few who could create such a fully realized reality such as Middle Earth, complete with an assortment of beings who had their own histories and languages. Though Tolkien didn’t intend them as allegories in the strictest sense, you can pull all sorts of inferences from his writings.

For the record, I am a fan of all things Harry Potter and Narnia. I also love the Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L’Engle. At least those are the ones that come to mind.

Hopefully, I won’t rush through this time. I want to stop and savor all of Middle Earth. Too bad there’s not a “I went to The Shire and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” t-shirt.

 

Your Narnia Fix

Here’s a sample out of my favorite of all the Narnia books. You may have a different book that you prefer, but this one is the one I love to read the most when I make my yearly visit to The Chronicles of Narnia.

Enjoy.

“‘And where are we heading for?’ asked Edmund.

‘Well,” said Caspian, ‘that’s rather a long story. Perhaps you remember that when I was a child my usurping uncle Miraz got rid of seven friends of my father’s (who might have taken my part) by sending them off to explore the unknown Eastern Seas beyond the Lone Islands.’

‘Yes,” said Lucy, ‘and none of them ever came back.’

‘Right. Well, on my coronation day, with Aslan’s approval, I swore an oath that, if once I established peace in Narnia, I would sail east myself for a year and a day to find my father’s friends or to learn of their deaths and avenge them if I could. . . . That is my main intention. But Reepicheep here has an even higher hope.’

Everyone’s eyes turned to the Mouse.

‘As high as my spirit,’ it said. ‘Though perhaps as small as my stature. Why should we not come to the very eastern end of the world? And what might we find there? I expect to find Aslan’s own country. It is always from the east, across the sea, that the great Lion comes to us.’

‘I say, that is an idea,’ said Edmund in an awed voice.

‘But do you think,” said Lucy, “Aslan’s country would be that sort of country—I mean, the sort you could ever sail to?’

‘I do not know, Madam,” said Reepicheep. “But there is this. When I was in my cradle, a wood woman, a Dryad, spoke this verse over me:

Where sky and water meet,

Where the waves grow sweet,

Doubt not, Reepicheep,

To find all you seek,

There is the utter East.

“I do not know what it means. But the spell of it has been on me all my life.’

From The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Compiled in A Year with Aslan

A Little Hint of Heaven

I don’t know why, but when the weather turns cooler I find myself getting more nostalgic for the people and places of my past. Today, I caught myself wishing I could revisit my grandparents’ old house on Alcy Road in Memphis.

Then it occurred to me.  Maybe I will. Not in the sense of actually driving back to Memphis and going to that neighborhood. Maybe in another way.

Perhaps all the places you and I loved back when and long for were glimpses of what heaven will be like. In The Chronicles of Narnia, when Peter, Lucy, Edmund, and the rest get to the New Narnia, one of them says that all the reason that he loved certain parts of the Old Narnia is that they reminded him of the new. The Old Narnia itself was a shadow and a copy of the New Narnia, the Real and True Narnia.

For me, I have a fondness for Union University. In the past, I had times when I even dreamed of going back and what it would be like. In this case, I really was able to go back, only to discover that the campus has so radically changed that I recognize very little of it. The people that made it so great weren’t there.

I see now that it wasn’t the actual brick-and-mortar buildings that I loved. It was the memories housed in those places — memories of people and events that shaped who I am now. The best memories were the tiniest glimpses into eternity, almost of heaven breaking through.

You can’t go back. Not really. You can never recreate a moment once it’s gone. You can cherish the memory of it and recognize that you saw a little bit of heaven in it. You can devote yourself to living every day to the fullest in pursuit of making new memories rather than living in the past and dwelling solely on old ones.

 

This Is It

“This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life” (1 John 5:12).

The life is in Jesus.

When I was a kid, I thought eternal life was simply living forever. Not that anyone overtly told me this, but it’s what my kid brain grasped when anybody talked about how whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. To me, that meant life that lasted a long time.

I think what I’m beginning to understand is that, while the forever part is right, there is more to it than that. It’s more than just quantity of life. It’s about a quality of life, too.

Eternal life is life with Jesus at the source. It’s where Jesus becomes my life. It’s where even my best days now are nothing compared to what my eternal future will be like.

As I’ve said before, I like to think of C.S. Lewis’ description of the New Narnia in his book, The Last Battle. It’s like everything you were always looking for but never knew it.

It’s like waking up on the first day of summer after school ends, knowing you have freedom up ahead. It’s like that first day of pure vacation bliss. Oh, and it doesn’t end in August or when you go back to work. It never ends.

It’s like that one book I read so long  ago. I can’t remember any of the detail, only that it was one of those books that I couldn’t put down and was sorry to see it end. Eternal life is the realization that this life now are like the title page and the introduction and the rest is the real beginning, a story where each chapter gets better than the last.

 

 

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are -are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there” (C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).

I’m now almost done with my favorite of all the Narnia books– The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. That means only two more to go after this one.

There’s so much to like in this book, but the best part is toward the end when they’re getting close to the end of the world, beyond which lies Aslan’s country. Spoiler alert.

The book reminds me that at some point, we have to say goodbye to the ones we love. That’s hard. But the key is in the perspective. That is, you focus on the time you had and the memories you made instead of the loss. Plus, God never takes anything away without giving something better in return. Usually, that something is God Himself. But I digress.

Even though I read these books through every year and I know I’ll read them again at some point in 2016, it still makes me a bit sad knowing that I’m nearing the end of these books.

I think my favorite character is that noble mouse Reepicheep. He’s the smallest of them all, yet he’s also the bravest and most daring. He’s the one who wants to head into the darkness and stay at Ramandu’s table for the adventure of it.

But I like Lucy, too. After all, I did name my cat after her.

 

ISO One Magical Wardrobe

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I’m re-reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I can’t express enough how much I love this book. I also can’t express enough how much I’d like one of those magical wardrobes that you climb inside and wind up in a different world.

I’d love to be able to visit Narnia from time to time and see all those wonderful characters.

I do realize that wardrobes don’t work that way all the time. I also get that Narnia exists only in the world of fiction. Or does it?

There’s a little bit of Narnia in the best of my dreams. There’s a little bit of Narnia in those moments when I am truly and freely myself, when I really don’t care what anyone else, when fear absolutely ceases to exist for a moment.

These books were written for kids, but even as a grown-up, I still find so much that makes me pause and think. There’s really so much depth in the simplicity of these stories.

I love that Aslan isn’t safe, but He’s good. That’s true of God. We want Him safe and predictable, never asking anything unexpected of us. But that’s not the God I read about in the Bible. The God I read about isn’t safe, but He truly is good.

God’s primary concern isn’t our safety. It’s us looking and behaving like Jesus, even if we go through some harrowing places to get there. God doesn’t want us happy as much as He wants us holy (which probably goes against most of the feel-good theology that comes out of most pulpits these days).

I even love that Mr. Tumnus who started out to do a very bad thing, but repented and stuck to his word, even if it meant being turned into stone. And even Edmund became a decent fellow in the end.

I just love these books!