Tag Archives: narnia

Story

A Day No Pigs Would Die.

Harry Potter.

Glastonbury.

The Last Battle.

Shadow of the Giant.

– books that have reduced me to weeping for people that were created in someone’s mind.

 

It’s strange to close my book, wipe my eyes, and look up to realize that no one else is mourning with me. The saddest thing in my life right now is actually not that Julian left a note for his wife before leaving on a spaceship, believe it or not.

I remember distinctly reading the last chapter of A Day No Pigs Would Die during class in 6th grade. Afterwards, the rest of the class walked calmly to Music while I followed with tears streaming down my face, barely able to hold it together through the singing. (I told Greg this story as we went through our books this weekend: I got the “you-were-such-a-sweet-little-girl” smile, mixed with a little bit of laughter.)

Stories have power. Incredible power.

Maybe that’s why God gave us a Scripture of stories. The Bible is not a theology textbook, a scientific paper, or a historical record of events. It’s the epoch-long tale of a King’s rescue of His children, told over and over again in little stories and revealed as the over-arching narrative of all the stories. It’s a story – a true story – that captivates our hearts and minds more than any other.

I think it was the tale Lucy read in the Magician’s book, about which she said, “That is the loveliest story I’ve ever read or ever shall read in my whole life.” For truly, what could be better?

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Nana

I went to the funeral this weekend of a woman I had met only once, but who has changed my life forever: my husband’s Nana.

While I’ve hardly met her, I know so much about her from her family.  I know that she and Papa went to a movie theater on their honeymoon, but neither could remember what movie they saw (“I wasn’t watching the movie, grandson”).  I know that she sewed my mother-in-law’s wedding dress.  I know that she loved flowers and gardening, and that her favorite color was pink.  I know that she painted her dining room mural, read to her grandchildren, and dominated at 42.  In her handwritten notes under pictures dating back to her own childhood, I feel I have come to see some of her personality.

Though I know many things about her, I can feel her love for the Lord.  She was a passionate lover of Jesus, always serving, often rejoicing in song.  I know that my father-in-law learned his steady, faithful love for God from his mother, who enveloped her daughter-in-law in this love, too.  My in-laws then nurtured that love for God in their son, my husband.  (And all of them can sing – oh, can they sing praise!!!)  I know Nana is so proud of the way her grandson serves and talks with his Lord every day.

I have been blessed to have not attended many funerals in my life.  The one I remember most vividly was so sad – a friend’s mother taken much too young.  We did “mourn with hope” because we knew she had gone Home; still, the mourning for her leaving so soon overshadowed other emotions.

This weekend, there was so much joy.  Nana has gone home!  Her long suffering with dementia and short, painful suffering with cancer are gone.  Nana’s family mourned the long “see you later” that her death means for them here, but rejoiced that she is finally in a place of healing and rest, a place where she can look on the face of the God she has loved so long.

My father-in-law gave his mother a wonderful send-off on Sunday morning.  He reminded all present that heaven is real – God’s promise for those of us who believe – and that Nana is where she most wanted to be.

He read this passage from Narnia’s Last Battle:

Then Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”

Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan.  And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”

“No fear of that,” said Aslan.  “Have you not guessed?”

Their hearts leapt, and a wild hope rose within them.

“There was  a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead.  The term is over:  the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended:  this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

After the service, tears streaming down my face, I wrapped my mother-in-law in a hug.  She said, “I wish you could have really known her.”

I will.

Thank you, Nana, for having children and for teaching them so much about life, love, and the Lord.  You have changed my life forever through your son and grandson.  I so look forward to meeting you – mind whole – in heaven and dancing for our Lord together.

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In Defense of Tears

“So,” said Peter, “night falls on Narnia. What, Lucy! You’re not crying? With Aslan ahead, and all of us here?”
“Don’t try to stop me, Peter,” said Lucy, “I am sure Aslan would not. I am sure it is not wrong to mourn for Narnia.”
… “It were no virtue, but great discourtesy, if we did not mourn.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

John writes, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35).

On my last day at my beloved local church, I wept. It started as I walked up the stairs. My tears flowed freely during the music, I sniffled through the sermon, and I bawled uncontrollably the whole way home, finally collapsing in a muddled heap on my couch.

Many people offered words of comfort: “Don’t cry.” “You’ll be back.” “You will find a new church and new community.” “Something better is coming.”
While their words are true, I rebel at the command not to cry.

“Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it.” – Albert Smith

As Tirian said, it is a “great discourtesy” not to mourn the ending of something beautiful, even if something better is coming. Jesus mourned for his friend Lazarus, even though He knew that Lazarus would live again. Each year during Lent we mourn and remember Jesus’s sacrifice, even though we know Easter is on its way. Mourning gives weightiness and value to something’s ending. Skipping the Passion directly for Easter glances over the sacrifice that makes Easter beautiful. Experiencing the emotions of deep sorrow and deep happiness make life real. Without tears, I would just skip like a rock across the surface of life, never allowing it to affect me. Tears show that I have been touched, that I have become attached, that I have loved.

And so I weep for the ending of beautiful things here at Baylor and at Highland. The faces, the places, the laughter, the difficulties, the music, the sounds, the smells, the hugs, even those darn college coffee pots: I will miss it all.

In the midst of tears, I cry with hope (1 Thessalonians 4), for I know God has great things planned. Ahead of me is a new city, a new school, a new church, a new life with which I can glorify God.

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.
– Lord Digory, C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Kyle’s last sermon, on 1 Thessalonians 5, was a beautiful reminder of this truth: Jesus is coming, and He’s going to bring His own to their one true, final Home! In that Home, there will be no tears!
But until that time, I will have to face the passing of beautiful things, things that faintly echo the melody of that Home. And I will shed tears.

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Tater tots, Snails, and a Lion

I nearly ordered tater tots in a British accent.

This was at a Sonic halfway (4 hours) between my boyfriend’s home and my own, as I wrapped up my whirlwind tour of Texas that included moving home, driving back to Waco, two dear (one little) friends’ wedding, and a spontaneous road trip east. When I pulled in to that particular Sonic, I’d been listening to the Chronicles of Narnia for four straight hours. (Well, not entirely straight. I had to turn off Aslan’s beautiful speech to Shasta so I could go back and find the highway I missed. Woops.) It just seemed natural that I should be ordering tater tots in a British accent.

The combination of much traveling, deep and wonderful conversations, and being once again steeped in the language of Narnia got me to thinking about the concept of Home again.
Every where I went this last week felt like a little bit of home. Moving home and having Greg there was perfectly natural. Going back to Waco so soon of course felt like returning home, even though I slept on an alien couch. Spontaneously ending up in Greg’s family guest room felt like home, too.

They say home is where the heart is.
I have entrusted my heart to God, and God is everywhere, therefore (by syllogism), I can find a bit of my true Home everywhere.

Maybe that is what I really need to learn about home. Moving from place to place across the state and the planet isn’t like completely uprooting myself and being replanted each time. Rather, I am like a nomad or a gypsy, or even a snail. I take my tent with me and set up a temporary home wherever I go. This ability gives me great attachment to each wonderful place I stay (have you ever tried to pull a snail from the wall to which it has attached its shell?), but lets me be just as attached to the next place I go. Though each site is wonderful, it is only an echo of my true, permanent Home.
When we get There, the change will be like the one you feel when you return from a camping trip, a delightful one nonetheless, to a house with four walls, and a bathroom, and a couch. You sigh as you plop into the couch and say, “Ah, it’s wonderful to be Home.” Though sleeping among the trees and the critters was great fun, you feel as if all’s right when you’re in your big bed under a sturdy roof. Getting to Heaven will be like finally reaching the Home we’ve been trying to return to all along.

Thank you for these wonderful beaver dams to stay in and lampposts to mark the way. I’m on my long way Home, Aslan.

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On Home and Moving

I’ve had some deep discussions with my mom lately about rooting myself up again and heading off to graduate school. On Wednesday she told me, “It’s so easy for you to pick up and start over.”
(I gave a wrinkled face to this over the phone. My cousin said something similar to me at Christmas, and it surprised me because I have never seen myself as the independent one of the cousins.)
My mom paused for a second and continued, “I know it’s not easy for you, but you do it. It’s your faith that allows you to.”

Her statement has been running through my head. Yes, I suppose it is my faith.

I know that this world, no where on it, is truly my Home. I am always looking forward to the place I truly belong.
While I am here, I have made many attachments. I miss the city in which I grew up, and I know I will miss Baylor when I leave. Yet neither one is truly Home, and neither will be the place I end up for graduate school and beyond. I am simply passing through, serving my King wherever He leads me.

Last night at a recruitment dinner, one of the graduate students – trying to make conversation – asked us all what we did outside of class. I told him it was pretty much church. Trying to be accommodating, he said, “Yeah, you can do that here,” and proceeded to list off a few Christian groups on campus.
Later on, I laughed. I should have responded with a smile and, “Yes, that’s the beauty of worshiping the Creator God. You can do it anywhere.”

Everywhere I go has reminders that the best is yet to come. Lampposts scream to me, “Aslan is on the move!”

Possible graduate school lamppost.

And so I roam, taking pictures of lampposts, only slightly afraid of uprooting again, moving ever closer to my true Home.

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Lewis on Love

[The dwarves] are so afraid of being taken in by unreal happiness, that they cannot be taken out of their real unhappiness. Lewis admits in his Meditation in a Toolshed that ‘we are often deceived by things from the inside [and] having been so often deceived by looking along, are we not well advised to trust only to looking at?’ The Last Battle, like so much of his oeuvre, gives his answer to that question: ‘Often deceived, yet open once again your heart.’ – Michael Ward, Planet Narnia

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. –C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

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Reality Straight Ahead

Reality Straight Ahead

I snapped this picture leaving Wicked on our last night in New York.
I don’t particularly like it.

The mission/service work we did in NYC felt like a fantasy world.
That sounds strange. I mean, we were in Harlem and the south Bronx. We served people by informing them that they could be tested for free for HIV/AIDS. We got hot, sweaty, sore, and exhausted.

I think what felt fantastical was that my goals and duties were so clearly defined.
Goal: Love God by serving the people of New York.
Duties: Hand out cards, organize books
That’s it.
I was a part of a team focused single-mindedly on advancing God’s Kingdom by serving the people in New York City. This sounds like the great fantasies that enchant my imagination: The Pevensies and friends always work towards one goal (finding Aslan, helping Prince Caspian, seeking out the East, or saving Prince Rilian), and Frodo and Sam seek only to destroy the Ring in Mordor. Simple, direct, and extremely important.

As I came back home, I felt myself descending into the mad, busy, confusing world of Reality. I have DemiDec deadlines, a thesis to write, the GRE to prepare for, volunteering, graduate school to worry about, friends to contact, family to care for, and, of course, thinking way too much about boys and men and my future. I understand so little of what I should be focusing on, and I feel myself pulled in so many directions. What one goal should I be working towards when I have so many things to do?

I suppose it is exactly the same goal as in Narnia and New York.
Goal: Serve and love the King.

It’s the specific duties that are a little harder to figure out.

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