Stories and Soul-Work
January 10, 2011
It’s been said and discussed so many times, and by so many more eloquent people than I, but it bears repeating: stories, the right kind of stories, are so fabulous for growing character and enriching the soul.
I’ve been reading aloud the Chronicles of Narnia to Bridget recently. (I’m also reading a book series aloud with Lucy – The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers [highly recommended] and we’re reading the Harry Potter series aloud with Phoebe. Although Dave usually beats me to the punch with that read-aloud. In fact, he’s reading it to her now, even as I type!)
As I was saying, I’m reading the Chronicles to Bridget and she loves them.
We just finished The Voyage of the Dawn Treader last week and as I read a section near the very end I had to pause and wipe a few tears away. Why? Reepicheek. This valiant, chivalrous, heroic Talking Mouse had spent the days of his life always ready with his sword to challenge injustice or to protect someone’s honor. This noble Mouse, as he prepared to go on alone in his tiny coracle in search of Aslan’s country, “took off his sword (‘I shall need it no more,’ he said) and flung it far away across the lilied sea.”
Bridget was listening with rapt attention. It was an interesting part of the story. But I was nearly undone. I think in my life, sheltered and blessed though it’s been, I’ve seen enough pain and misery and heartache to more fully grasp that idea that the Land we’re all seeking will be one where swords are no longer needed, safety and honor and dignity and peace will prevail. And that longing… how does C.S. Lewis capture it in so few words, so simply? So profoundly?
Though Bridget was not shaken by this idea like her blubbering mommy was, I hope and trust that the idea of the courageous Reepicheek no longer needing his sword in Aslan’s country will stick with her. She already beautifully grasps the notion of Aslan being a sort of Christ-figure. And again, these stories are helping to shape her idea of what this God is like.
We’re on to The Silver Chair. Jill and Eustace and Puddleglum have “muffed” three Signs so far, Signs that Aslan Himself gave Jill at the onset of their quest. I closed the book after finishing the chapter where they’ve arrived in Harfang, the giant’s castle, and asked Bridget what she thought of it all. (I really try NOT to spoon feed my children these notions.) She said, “I think Aslan is going to come to them. And He’s going to say it really kindly. But it’s going to be bad.”
How much more is she grasping the fact that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen His glory…full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), than if I had tried to sit down and explain that verse to her?
Few things fire me up like learning soul lessons through a good story.