” ‘The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream has 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 I cannot write them. And for us, this is the end of all 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.”
I did something today completely out of character. I read The Last Battle. For those of you who know me and have read this blog for a while, you know when the end of June rolls around it’s time for me to re-read The Chronicles of Narnia series. I’m not sure why this tradition began, but it has been ten years of re-reading the seven books during summer break. I always read them in order, never allowing myself to skip ahead to my more favored books (The Silver Chair’s my favorite, in case you were wondering). But this year, I have broken all of my rules. Not only did I read the Last Battle today as the first book of the summer reading season, I skipped ahead to all of my favorite parts. And cried like a baby.
I’m not sure what possessed me to rebel against my own rules. All I know is, I was taken this morning by a deep and curious desire to connect to something bigger, greater than myself. Yes, I am speaking of God, and not that I don’t crave that kind of intimacy with him every day but today it was palpable- as if my bones were groaning for a small seed of hope, a tiny glimmer of beauty, a minute pat of reassurance. Do you ever feel that way? As if you suddenly realize anew why certain books stir your soul, certain pieces of Art provide inspiration, certain places or movies or music give you comfort?
Ellie girl had a rough night. The first one after a good streak of a week and a half. And it was disheartening. And discouraging. And I felt myself slipping back into that trap of despair and lies- the one that tells you that everything good that happens is just a cruel joke playing itself out before the next shoe drops. I am not saying that God does not use reading my Bible and praying ot help me find some hope and reassurance. He does. But there is something sweet, and magically about works of fiction that reach deep down. I find God in them, whether that was the author’s intention or not I’m not sure, but I am sure it was God’s and that’s all that matters to me.
I wonder how J.K. Rowling would feel if I told her how her beautifully illustrated relationship between Harry and his deceased parents often reminds me of God’s nature and character of love for me. Her books, that were debased by Christians and labeled as evil, have been, in my darkest hour, some of my most precious reminders of God’s unfailing love, his intricate fabric of community, his power against evil. I have clung to them. Or, Ms. DiCamillo that Desperaux gives a face to the truth and virtue I’ve always read in my devotions? How about Frodo’s courage in the face of trouble? Katniss’s sacrificial love? Ms. Bennett’s willingness to swallow pride? Jane’s fearlessness and acceptance of who she is and her refusal to change to please others? At one time or another, and so many more, I have been comforted through these characters.
Which is why I needed Aslan today. I needed The Last Battle Aslan, where he welcomes me to a different country. Where he reminds me of how short our time here really is- that there is something beautiful and tangible that waits for me. I needed to connect to God in that way. I am forever thankful that God is so much more creative than we often give him credit for. He is in everything- uses everything- to speak directly to where our hearts are.
Now, if you excuse me, I’ve got a few more pages waiting for me.
Further up, and further in!