(Aside) I was saving this for later, but recent events have inspired me to go ahead and post…
I love C. S. Lewis. If the Professor was a recognized Orthodox saint, I would choose him to be my patron saint. The funny thing is, I haven’t read a whole lot of his works. I wouldn’t even say I’ve read much of it. I started this book and began that book but never finished them. I read this and that but didn’t really understand what I was reading at the time. But I love him because he wrote my favorite books in the world, which are the Chronicles of Narnia.
I have quite the sentimental attachment to this series. I read the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for the first time when I was a 6th-grader. My oldest brother and I used to have late-night chats where we would talk about school, boys, our family, religion, music, and everything. When I told him I was reading this book for class, he informed me there were six more of them and they were great and he read them as a kid and this is what each book is about and they’re actually stories based in Christianity and I need to read all of them. In fact, “I think my old set is somewhere in the garage…”
So we walked down to the garage (in my parents’ house, the garage is just another attic space) and it didn’t take him long to find his old set which he happily gave to me. I did not continue reading the series at that time. Not until after his death.
My brother was tragically killed in a car accident. I was in high school when it happened and he was in his twenties. If you know what it is to lose someone that close to you, then you know there are no words to express the depth of your sorrow. Even as the years go by, there is one hole in your heart that will never fully heal. The Crucifixion and Resurrection – Jesus trampling down death by death – take on a whole new meaning. The words of the Creed, “we look for the resurrection of the dead”, are spoken from the deepest part of our hearts.
That first year of grief was extremely difficult to say the least. None of my friends had experienced a loss of this magnitude and I felt very alone. During that time people would say really horrible things like, “Even things like this happen for a reason” and “God has a plan” and just an unending string of ignorant statements that make no sense, from the mouths of people who are very concerned about you and are only trying to help, but obviously have no clue what kind of demons you’re wrestling with. Of course I had a crisis of faith. I think to go through something like that and NOT have a crisis of faith is ridiculous. If anyone says differently, I would automatically assume one of two things is true: 1. They’re lying or 2. They have never truly experienced death. I just don’t see how it’s possible your entire way of thinking isn’t completely transformed after experiencing such a complete sadness.
At some point that year I grew very tired of trying to make sense out of the insensible and I wanted to let it go. I don’t really know what I was trying to do, but I thought reading the Chronicles of Narnia might help. I sort of prescribed it to myself as a part of my healing. So I read all seven books for the first time. I read the set my brother had given to me, his 12-year old handwriting still visible on the inside cover. I laughed and I cried, but I mostly cried. Very bittersweet tears.
I don’t know what reading these books did for me in my grief – perhaps all it did was provide a more light-hearted distraction while dealing with something so serious. Maybe it reminded me of the basics of Christ and His love, before this imperfect world and life experiences start warping your way of thinking. Or perhaps I felt that through these books, a bridge had been crossed and my brother and I were having one of our old chats.
I still periodically re-read the series. I lost count how many times I’ve done so, but each time I feel like I’m visiting an old, dear friend. My favorite parts remain just as poignant and I still find things I haven’t noticed before. These books could be badly written, mediocre fantasy stories and I would never know the difference. To me, they’re perfect. Lewis, however, was not. I will never know the man that Lewis was, but I think of him as a friend. Even if I never read another of his books or I read all of them and don’t understand a single one. Through the Chronicles of Narnia, he provided a source of comfort to me during the worst experience of my life when no one else could. I am eternally grateful to him. I think my brother is too.