I can’t remember my first exposure to the writings of C. S. Lewis. (It may have been an early reading of Till We Have Faces.) Before ever having read one volume of the Narnia series, I encountered this myth retold. Did I understand the story? Probably not; maybe I identified with Orual’s ugliness? Something about it captured my youthful imagination.
One hundred and two years ago (in far-off Belfast, Northern Ireland), Mr. and Mrs. Albert Lewis welcomed their younger son into this world. Today, I gratefully celebrate Lewis’ life and work. Though I never met him, I have a vivid personal memory of his passing.
I was in junior high school, a disappointed student returning home from school earlier than expected because the school party and dance scheduled for that Friday evening (November 22, 1963) had been canceled at the last minute. (Not a fan of JFK, I admit I was miffed. Why cancel a party in Missouri when Kennedy had died in Dallas?!)
The car radio was on that night. In between all the news flashes and updates, telling and retelling the details of the JFK assassination, a single report mentioned the death of Cambridge Professor C. S. Lewis. No one else in the car took notice … I mean, Lewis being a Brit, how would most Americans weigh his death against the sudden loss of our charismatic President?
But I noticed and quietly grieved.
In the years since, I’ve enjoyed so much more of Lewis’ oeuvre. I’d hardly consider myself an “expert,” but through his writings, he has become a treasured friend.
Several years ago, I left town to visit my mom. My family seized the opportunity to redo my living room (as a surprise Christmas gift). They brought in new furniture, repainted the beige walls a lovely soft green and hung on the walls framed Pauline Baynes drawings from The Chronicles of Narnia.
Upon my return, I was stunned by the transformation and delighted with the end result! (When we moved last year to another home, we repeated the motif here.) The room continues to be a special place of peaceful retreat for me.
Many years ago, I declared my dream was to produce the next “Great American Novel.” Today, I would find satisfaction in a more modest goal: writing with the clarity, simplicity and imagination contained in the works of Clive Staples Lewis. Enough said.