Time and again I am frustrated with how to manage all the thoughts that get tangled up in my brain after I finish reading a book, but that tangle is multiplied by seven after finishing the series, The Chronicles of Narnia,by C. S. Lewis. I am left with sadness of the end, yet that is coupled with the optimism.
At the same time, basically, I have finished reading the Old Testament book of Numbersand the New Testament book of Revelations. Maybe that has multiplied the tangled mess in my head.
I know I have said it before, but reading fantasy literature is difficult for me with all the invented names the authors introduce. My dyslexic brain is so wired to read language that fits into my paradigm of spelling and meanings, that stepping into the fantasy world of unknowns slows down my reading and therefore complicates my ability to stay connected to the storyline.
Now add to the storyline of the seven chronicles the Biblical timelines of the Old Testament, the New Testament and then the future as outlined in Revelations and this brain is almost fried, if I may use a vernacular.
BUT. And I do mean all caps BUT, the reading continues to fuel my understanding of God. I am more and more convinced of the reality that where I live here in the Midwest of the United States, a North American country of the globe we label Earth is just one tiny speck in a universe that God has established.
AND, yes an all caps AND, the speck in the universe that I am is as exciting and delightful as any speck might be anywhere in the vast unknowns—as long as we are part of God’s loving world filled with Grace, Love, Mercy, and more Love.
In one respect, I am thankful that I read the chronicles in the way the stories were packaged rather than in the order they were actually written. I like order. And even though the chronicles always remind readers that today’s earthly definition of time and Narnia’s concept of time do not match, keeping the sequence of the stories in order helped my dyslexic-and probably obsessive-compulsive tendencies-aided in my comprehension.
That is a lengthy introduction to the tangled thoughts that are bouncing around in my head, but I beg your patience as I begin trying to sort out some of my thoughts.
1. The Chronicles of Narniais much more than juvenile literature. The truth that Lewis presents how to treat others just as they want to be treated—whether human or animal—is critical and I am thankful that it is the underlying theme for each of the adventures.
Loving one another as one wants to be loved is absolutely critical. That rule of life has, is and always must be the measure of all actions whether in personal relationships, in community neighborhoods, in business decisions, in national and international decisions, even in decisions on how we treat the other living beings co-existing with us.
If every decision was made based on that principle, how could decisions have negative affects?
2. The Chronicles of Narniaalso illustrates the basic sins of humanity that return over and over in literature and in our daily life, especially greed and power. Lewis’ characters clearly identify the negative effects of the sinful behaviors in vivid descriptions of the characters’ features and faces, not to mention their actions.
The images literally caused me to shiver as the story took a turn for evil and challenged the forces of good. I get the same reaction when the news shares some terrible event or even quote something or someone who is operating from the premise of greed or power over the well-being of others.
Reading the Old Testament book of Numbers, was challenging because I could not comprehend the need for the itemized explanations repeated over and over for how to make sacrifices, nor for the different degrees of sacrifices or offerings for this or that purpose. Confusing. Unnecessary. Unmanageable. Of course, those descriptors come from the 21stcentury after God sent Jesus as the final blood sacrifice.
Which again brings up the discussion of timelines. As I read through the New Testament book of Revelationsalong side ofNumbersandThe Chronicles of Narnia, I had to face the fact that we continually need to be taught how to keep our life focused on God and the true commandments that Jesus taught during his ministry:
Love one another.
As much reading as I am doing these months, I can turn almost any literature into a theological discussion on how to live the Christian lifestyle and how that combats all the evil in our lives. I also can see though the various written words how essential it is to live in our current timeframe by those very commandments so that we are able to transition into any other realm at any time.
When I read the final chapter of Lewis’s The Last Battle, I wanted to scream, “NO!” Over and over I wanted the story to continue and for the Eustace and Jill to return to their lives in England without any loss of Narnia.
I wanted to scream, “NO!” that the evil ape Smith was just misleading all the creatures of Narnia.
I wanted to scream, “NO!” that the donkey Puzzle was clever and the ape was dangerous trying to manipulate Puzzle.
I wanted to scream, “NO!” to Tirian as he drew his sword trying to fight against the impossible number of Calormenes.
But the lesson would have been lost if Lewis’s story had not continued to the surprising conclusion as each one of the Narnian squad entered the Stable door.
Then as the last chapters began to conclude the chronicles, the glory of Aslan pushes the reader forward, into a realm of new possibilities.
And, my personal readings once again intertwine. Remember, my personal reading has been included Revelations, which is filled with the wonderment of the New Jerusalem in vivid descriptions.
Why, I ask, did I find myself binge reading The Chronicles of Narniaalong side the year-long Bible readings? As I said, now that I finished the chronicles, I am experiencing a sense of sadness, but it is coupled with optimism.
My brain is afire with thoughts, but then the final pages of The Last Battleand the chapters of Revelationsseem to be racing together to tell me one of the most wonderful truths that I have yet to experience: Life with Jesus as my savior leads to life eternal in a world so unbelievably beautiful that there is nothing to fear.
Please join me in prayer:
Dear loving, gracious, merciful Father
As the words of your servants
Unveil the mysteries of our earthly lives,
May we shed all the fears
that clutter our lives
Muddling the beauty of life around us.
Lead us through the Holy Spirit
Who teaches us through the words
Of Holy Scripture written so long ago,
but also of gifted writers since those days.
Open our hearts and our minds
So that we may take the words
And open our hands to serve you
In any way that we can
So others may learn the promises
Of The Word shared by Jesus. –Amen
Just a P.S. Words are powerful and I continue to read even when the ideas, the genres, and the timelines cause my brain to go into overload. How often I find myself needing to step away and let my thoughts just float around before they fly out the fingers on the keys. May God’s words enlighten me through the Holy Spirit so that my words are God’s tools.