Ponderings

Some Pick a Word, I Pick a Phrase

Are y’all into the “Word for the Year” trend? I truly enjoy hearing what word people choose and why, but as for myself? My first thought is how I can’t handle the pressure of picking one word for the year and second? Having to remember it the whole year kinda stresses me out too. Totally ridiculous, I admit. But nonetheless, welcome to my brain. But apparently I’ve become all about phrases.

Last year, while it was nothing official, “Aslan is on the Move” became my phrase for 2016. In January, I kept thinking of it and remember telling my community group how I felt that “God was going to move this year, you know, Aslan is on the Move!” I had quite a different idea of how that might have turned out, but as He often does, God totally blew my expectations and dreams out of the water with the move to Colorado (among many other awesome/hard/stretching things).

I wasn’t planning on picking any words or phrases for 2017, but then one of my favorite phrases and quotes kept popping up in different ways, so I went all in.

So for 2017, here’s my phrase.

“Courage, Dear Heart”

I promise I didn’t pick another Narnia quote on purpose. Although, I’m not shocked it turned out that way.

Not only for courage in my career and my writing (I made quite a few changes in my blogging schedule, newsletter, etc), but also for the great unknown. I know God is moving (thus why “Aslan is on the move” has officially become my life motto 🙂 ), but more than knowledge, I want to have the courage to trust that with all my heart.

I want to have courage to not be overwhelmed by what’s happening around me, but bravely step out and reach out to those in need, speak out against injustice and love like Jesus does. And like Jesus often does, a few days after I decided this, I came across this verse:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

What’s your word of the year?

Advertisements
Inklings

The Friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (Plus It’s International Inklings Day!!)

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! I don’t want you to miss any of the posts this week, so be sure to check them out here!) 

I miss you Oxford!

“Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.” Cicero

Today is officially International Inklings Day!!!! On this day 90 years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were gathered for English tea with Oxford English faculty at Merton College and met for the first time. This would begin a 40 year friendship and this friendship would inspire generations to come and also help to produce some of literature’s greatest masterpieces.

Yet, truth be told, it wasn’t friendship at first sight. After that first meeting, Lewis commented (I believe jokingly!) about Tolkien: “No harm in him: only needs a smack or so.” He thought him rather opinionated, but this was more due to the fact that at the time Lewis was an atheist and Tolkien was a strong Roman Catholic. As Diana Pavlac Glyer explained in Bandersnatch (which really is an excellent book and you should all read it!)

“It got worse. As Lewis and Tolkien got to know each other, it became clear that they had a number of serious disagreements. They had different interests and personalities. They came from different religious traditions. And they had different academic specialties. Lewis was an expert in literature and philosophy; Tolkien was a philologist, an expert in languages. He loved Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon. Lewis said that meeting Tolkien triggered two of his childhood prejudices. He explains, “At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a [Catholic], and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.

Soon after the faculty disagreed on required courses for English students and Lewis and Tolkien found themselves on opposite sides of the debate. So Tolkien decided that in order to win people over to his curriculum, he would gather the faculty together to bring about love for mythology and ancient languages. This turned out to be a genius move. Once again, I’ll quote Bandersnatch:

Lewis and Tolkien discovered they had significant common ground. They gravitated towards each other because they shared an interest in what they called “northernness,” the vast skies, icy landscapes, and heroic tempers of the ancient Vikings. As they talked together, Lewis was slowly won over to Tolkien’s view of the English curriculum. And as they worked side by side, they forged a solid friendship. E. L. Edmonds, a student at Oxford, remembers, “It was very obvious that [Lewis and Tolkien] were great friends—indeed, they were like two young bear cubs sometimes, just happily quipping with one another.”

Tolkien would go on to play a significant role in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity (especially on the night of September 19, 1931, where, along with Hugo Dyson, the three men spent hours discussing life and faith and Lewis later said this was his final push for Christianity) and Lewis would be Tolkien’s biggest supporter and encourager in finishing Lord of the Rings and other works. Their friendship was a staple in each other’s lives and, while, in later years the friendship did change, it never lost it’s meaning.

In Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez, we see that “with C.S. Lewis’ death, it was a “wound [Tolkien] knew he would not lose, as one loses a falling lead.” Even years after Lewis’ death Tolkien wrote about Lewis: “The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him [did I] ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby.”

I’ll leave with a few fun facts because I’m all about fun facts.

  • Lewis’ character, Elwin Random, in Out of the Silent Planet, resembles Tolkien quite a bit. Elwin means “elf-friend” and the character is a Cambridge philologist who has a love for languages.
  • The Professor in Narnia was also inspired by Tolkien.
  • Treebeard was inspired by C.S. Lewis.
  • They each have rad names: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis
  • They both lost their moms at a young age
  • Tolkien’s dad died when he was a toddler and Lewis’ Dad withdrew and sent Lewis to a boarding school after his mother’s death.
  • They both fought in WWI.
  • In 1961, Lewis nominated Tolkien for the Nobel Peace Prize in literature (which he totally should have won)
  • Both Humphrey Carpenter (Tolkien’s official biographer) and Edith Tolkien (when she told scholar Clyde S. Kilby) stated that C.S. Lewis actually wrote Tolkien’s obituary, which was published the day after his death (9/2/73) in The Times.

“My happiest hours are spent with three or four old friends and old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs – or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer tea and pipes.”

I hope y’all enjoyed this brief look at Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship! Who has greatly encouraged and inspired you in your life?

Inklings

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

“He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

How and where do I start with this brilliant piece of work? Whether Lewis had me laughing or yearning for things beyond this world, I love this book and I just need to let the world wide web know that the world of Narnia is pure genius.

I laughed a bunch in this book. Lucy and Mr. Tumnus’ early interaction was a favorite. His take on where she came from? Genius.

“Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?”

I want to have tea with you Mr. Tumnus!!

Reading The Chronicles of Narnia is numinous. That might be a strange way to describe it, but I see God’s story in every page and some of the ways Lewis discussed and described Aslan gave me the chills (in a good way!). Throughout the pages, we see humanity gone wrong, yet humanity restored. I saw bravery and love in the most beautiful sense.

Like the way we learn about Aslan’s character through people’s reactions. Check this passage:

“They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps has already landed.

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different.”

It’s that joy (even if you don’t see it at first) of knowing you will be restored & redeemed.

Now how do I not just unleash of all things Aslan right now?

First there’s this song:
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

Then there’s this:
“People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time. If the children had ever thought so, they were cured of it now. For when they tried to look at Aslan’s face they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn’t look at him and went all trembly.”

Aslan is simply awesome. I know, a terribly inadequate description, but he is!

“Safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Alright – discussion time! Here’s some questions for discussion. As always, please feel free to answer any or all and include any additional thoughts!

1. Which of the siblings (or parts of their personality) do you connect with?
Before I answer, I want to add how I thought Lewis’ description of how each sibling felt when they first heard the name of Aslan very telling (and how that carries over into real life reactions)
Edmund: “A sensation of mysterious horror.”
Peter: “Brave and adventurous.”
Susan: “As if some delicious smell of some delightful strain of music had just floated by her.”
Lucy: “The feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”

I think I would have Lucy’s reaction to Narnia, pretty much running around saying “this is the greatest thing ever!!” And maybe a touch of Peter.

2. Do you have a favorite character?
Aslan! Since he’s probably a favorite for many readers, I’ll also add Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. I love that they didn’t doubt when they knew (without seeing) and felt that Aslan was on the move. Then they were all in, not matter the dangers that surely awaited them. I really like Edmund’s change too.

3. What were some of your favorite lines or quotes?
When the girls were watching Aslan as he sacrificed himself, well the whole scene was beautiful, but especially this line during his moment of “weakness”, when the White Witch thought she had won and disgraced Aslan by shaving him: “…for now that the first shock was over the shorn face of Aslan looked to her braver, and more beautiful, and more patient than ever.” Sigh. Have I mentioned I love C.S. Lewis?

4. What’s one part of the story you connected with?
Another theme I really loved seeing played out was the one of bravery. For example, when Maugrim (captain of the Witch’s guard) is trying to get Susan and Peter is her only hope: “Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do.” That seems to be a recent theme in my life. Sometimes you don’t feel all that brave until a situation that requires bravery, is thrust upon you.

“…though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know…that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”

Excited to discuss with y’all!!

Inklings

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

Hello everyone! As always, I love these discussions and getting to chat all things Narnia with y’all and am looking forward to your thoughts! So let’s dive in shall we?

Everytime I read C.S. Lewis’ humor in his books, it gives me hope that if we lived at the same time we would have been great friends. This book starts off with this hilarious line:

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

It sets up Eustace’s character so perfectly.

I figured I’d start with some overall thoughts of the book. I love the adventures in this one. From finding out what happened to each of the Lords, to encountering Stars to sea serpents and other such mischief, I found this one most full of adventure. I also love how Lewis reminds us of the past stories (he’s done this before, not just in this one). It’s like the cool kids know what he’s talking about. I will admit to this geekery, I feel special knowing all the details.

“Most of us, I suppose, have a secret country but for most of us it is only an imaginary country. Edmund and Lucy were luckier than other people in that respect. Their secret country was real.”

Sigh…I’ll never stop wishing this place was real.

Can we also all agree that Eustace is a bit of a hot mess early on? 🙂 His journal entries cracked me up, along with his thoughts on Reep. Like this one:

“Nearly forgot to say that there is also a kind of Mouse thing that gives everyone the most frightful cheek. The others can put up with it if they like but I shall twist his tail pretty soon if he tries it on me. The food is frightful too.”

I’ll get to more of this soon, but I absolutely loved what Lewis did with his character and what it took for Eustace to change.

This story is full of so much adventure, yet Aslan is still always there. When they least expect it, when their hearts are being tempted to go astray, Aslan loves them enough to remind them of who they really are. The process isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.

Take the scene where Dragon Eustace became boy Eustace again:

“Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly toward me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn’t that kind of fear. I wasn’t afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it—if you can understand. Well, it came close up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn’t any good because it told me to follow it.”

“You mean it spoke?”

“Then the lion said—but I don’t know if it spoke—‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know—if you’ve ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund

(Eustace describes the process a bit more…)

“What do you think it was, then?” asked Eustace.

“I think you’ve seen Aslan,” said Edmund.

“Aslan!” said Eustace. “I’ve heard that name mentioned several times since we joined the Dawn Treader. And I felt—I don’t know what—I hated it. But I was hating everything then. And by the way, I’d like to apologize. I’m afraid I’ve been pretty beastly.”

“That’s all right,” said Edmund. “Between ourselves, you haven’t been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor.”

I really love Edmund’s character. In all ways he isn’t afraid to mention his mistake and what he learned from it. Our stories have the chance to encourage and impact others.

In another Aslan scene, when all he does is stand on a hillside when Caspian and Edmund start fighting over a lake of turning things into gold? He doesn’t even have to say anything:

“Across the gray hillside above them—gray, for the heather was not yet in bloom—without noise, and without looking at them, and shining as if he were in bright sunlight though the sun had in fact gone in, passed with slow pace the hugest lion that human eyes have ever seen.”

I loved the same impact when Lucy encountered the beauty spell while in the Magician’s house:

“But when she looked back at the opening words of the spell, there in the middle of the writing, where she felt quite sure there had been no picture before, she found the great face of a lion, of The Lion, Aslan himself, staring into hers. It was painted such a bright gold that it seemed to be coming toward her out of the page; and indeed she never was quite sure afterward that it hadn’t really moved a little. At any rate she knew the expression on his face quite well. He was growling and you could see most of his teeth. She became horribly afraid and turned over the page at once.”

One more thought on Aslan (I know, I’m obsessed), but I love that He brings comfort in their darkest of time. This part was after they were in the dark cloud creepy-as-shanaynays island where dreams (not happy ones) come to life. They had already picked up crazy guy who survived so far and were seemingly lost on the way out:

“Lucy leant her head on the edge of the fighting-top and whispered, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.” The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little—a very, very little—better. “After all, nothing has really happened to us yet,” she thought.”

Then this (which y’all might recognize a favorite quote of mine):

“Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.”

I’d also like to take a moment to also say how much I love Reepicheep. Bound by honor and one of the bravest character you’ll meet in literature, he’s one of my favorites. Plus he cracks me up in this book. From picking a fight with Eustace early on to making it to Aslan’s country. I heart him. This scene:

“And why not?” he said. “Will someone explain to me why not?”

No one was anxious to explain, so Reepicheep continued:

“If I were addressing peasants or slaves,” he said, “I might suppose that this suggestion proceeded from cowardice. But I hope it will never be told in Narnia that a company of noble and royal persons in the flower of their age turned tail because they were afraid of the dark.”

“But what manner of use would it be plowing through that blackness?” asked Drinian.

“Use?” replied Reepicheep. “Use, Captain? If by use you mean filling our bellies or our purses, I confess it will be no use at all. So far as I know we did not set sail to look for things useful but to seek honor and adventure. And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honors.”

Several of the sailors said things under their breath that sounded like, “Honor be blowed,” but Caspian said: “Oh, bother you, Reepicheep. I almost wish we’d left you at home. All right! If you put it that way, I suppose we shall have to go on.”

You gotta love little Reep!

“Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
There is the utter East.”

This final quote I want to share is also one of my favorites of the series. It says so much about Aslan and who Lewis made him to be. It’s after Edmund and Lucy find out their adventures in Narnia have come to an end and Lucy cries out because she fears she will never see Aslan again. His response is as such:

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

As always, feel free to answer any or all the questions. I’d love to hear from you!

1. How does this rank in the Narnia series for you?
I really enjoyed this, as I do with all of Narnia tales, but it doesn’t rank in my top of top lists. It’s hard to beat my favorites. Still loved this one though.

2. Do you have a favorite scene or part?
Outside of scenes I’ve already mentioned, I found the idea of the creepy/dark cloud island scene fascinating. That would have to be one of the most scary possibilities in existence.

3. What about favorite characters?
I really liked seeing how Eustace changed and of course little Reep!

4. Finally, what were some of your favorite quotes?