Last night after Creation Quest VBS and the Friday night opening of “Ice Age: Continental Drift”— my grandchildren instructed me to read them C.S. Lewis’, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Again.
And it wasn’t the pop-up “Narnia” they wanted either. No, Joey, 5, and Madelyn, 3, bypassed the colorful condensed summary of Lewis’ most enduring works, they eschewed my famous nursery rhyme re-enactments, they waved aside any notion of the re-telling of the “Three Little Pigs” or “The Story of the Three Bears” and even gave me a thumbs down when I suggested reading one of their specials from an illustrated collection of Bible stories for children.
Instead, they chose the perfect combination of truth and fantasy that doesn’t contradict, doesn’t confuse. It complements, expands and explores.
And Joey suggested drowsily, after the first chapter, “Nana, maybe tomorrow we can watch the movie again.”
It was about this time three summers ago, after disregarding what most of the online commentaries advised, we first sat together and watched what has become our beloved Narnia. Once Lucy stepped from the cupboard into the forest, Joey was transfixed—Narnia has been our special place ever since.
After watching the movie I bought every version of the book I could find—and for a while read as much as I could whenever he would spend the night. Then after awhile Madelyn joined in.
Viewing one of the sequels in a movie theater with the family, Joey told Papa, “Aslan is God.” At age 3, our precocious little guy understood early that Aslan represents Christ.
And for those who are shocked, because, yes, Narnia can be very violent—that’s what fast forward buttons and Nana’s soft hands are for. Protecting little eyes. There’s a lot of violence in our world—and even nursery rhymes, the big bad wolf and Noah’s Ark can turn dangerous. It’s up to all of us to put this into perspective for the little ones.
Speaking of putting things into perspective. I think that’s what Joey and Maddy wanted last night. After a week of hand’s-on VBS at our church where they learned about all things related to creation—including a breakdown of the body, animals, the earth, and the solar system—they watched an animated movie that touched on some of these elements, but in such a distorted way their minds must have been on overload.
Children yearning for truth but craving for fantasy will no doubt adore C.S. Lewis. I have only to start telling the story of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy—and their great adventure that begins in a wooden wardrobe much like the one standing in my spare room: “And now there was no mistaking it and all four children stood blinking into the daylight of a winter day. Behind them were coats hanging on pegs. In front of them were snow-covered trees.”