It’s about that time again. It is the time of year when I pull out the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis and read all seven books from start to finish. They are not long books, and they are easy to read (as they are meant for children), but they are full of wonder and whimsy and all things avid readers love.
I read the entire series for the first time at Christmas about three years ago. I knew the story of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, but I had never read the other books in the series. So, I borrowed the entire set from the library and took them with me over the holiday break. I was mesmerized from the start. Magic, adventure, villains, heroes, conflict, redemption, love, and loss – these are the stuff great stories are made of!
Life has been far too practical lately. Bills, debt, moving, work, research, teaching, and health have taken up the largest parts of my brain for the past several months, so I know it is time for some childlike wonder. Lewis never fails to deliver.
I have been reading about The Inklings lately, also. This was a group of men who, for the most part, attended Oxford University and met at a small pub in Oxford, England on Tuesday mornings to discuss the world of literature. Tolkien, Lewis, and other great authors and poets would gather at the pub and have, what I imagine to be, the most wonderful conversations that have ever been conversed. What I would give to go back in time and just sit and listen to them! I wouldn’t say a word. Not a peep. I would watch their faces, listen to their stories, and soak up their genius.
One of the many reasons I love the works of writers like Tolkien and Lewis is that entire worlds were birthed out of their imaginations. Middle Earth and Narnia are mythical lands based on the insights and imaginations of the author’s worlds. Every word, every character, every pause came out of one person’s brain. Isn’t that incredible?
And while we are all influenced by others, no two books or paintings or songs are exactly alike. Even when artists “borrow” from each other, no two creations are the same. How remarkable is that?
In the middle of the first book in the Narnia series, The Magician’s Nephew, Aslan appears for the first time and he sings the land of Narnia into creation. When he is finished creating all of the animals, he leaves them with these instructions: “Love. Think. Speak.”
Lewis could have written any words in the English language here, but he chose these three in this particular order. How different would I be if I adopted the same instructions? To love first, then think, and THEN speak. So often I speak, over think, speak again, and then maybe choose to be loving, either to myself or others. How different would the words out of my mouth be if I loved first, then thought, and THEN spoke (which sometimes looks like not saying anything at all). How different would the world be if we STARTED with love, and then spoke? I know I would say far less harmful and foolish things.
As I continue my Narnia adventures, I hope to remember the wisdom of Lewis’ characters and all that they have to teach us about life. I hope I step out of the mundane and remember to see other people for what they are – unique creations who have never existed before and will never exist again. I bet I could treat people much better if I remember this simple fact.