Friday, March 23, 2012

the holidays have begun

Well, people, here at Notre Dame, the sky is blue, the air is warm, tulips and flowers all over campus are blooming, and in general, it just feels like summer. And with the sensation of summer comes the feeling that school should end, and the holidays are commencing.
Sadly, the holidays are still several weeks away, and yesterday they felt further away than ever. I had slept a total of thirteen hours since last Friday night, due to strange travel sleeping patterns and the paper I had due at the beginning of the week, and the fact that I didn't do any homework while in Italy. (Whoops.) So, yesterday, I felt as if my heart was too tired to beat. Everyone in the world seemed bent on going to the Hunger Games midnight showing last night. And while I desperately desired to go, I had to refuse those invitations. Usually, I have to force myself to make healthy sleep choices, but last night I knew that I simply wouldn't be able to walk anywhere. My eyes were drooping like weeping willow branches, my muscles were so limp, I couldn't even smile, and it was so hot, I just wanted to bathe in ice cubes and never leave my futon. In fact, what I really wanted was a futon made of ice cubes. I was not a very personable person yesterday. The only person who didn't annoy me yesterday was my sister, who was also in a rotten mood. We proceeded to have a pity party dinner in which we consoled ourselves in our misery. It was delightful, and it's at moments like those that I am so grateful to have a sister here at school.
But today, I woke up and I started the day off with a barefoot run in the rain, a rosewood rosary, a muffin and vanilla tea, and C.S. Lewis. We're reading the Chronicles of Narnia now, and it was a very Narnia-ish type day. It was a mixture of sheer, unadulterated natural beauty, and just simple homespun happiness.
The best sight so far today: Swans on the lake sheltering themselves from the rain with their wings. They look like miniature white ships floating on the lake. So beautiful.
The best feeling so far today: Walking barefoot in lush green grass. It's the most luxurious and happy feeling. It's like your feet are receiving a massage through Mother Nature.
Our professor re-won my heart for the thousandth time when he began our first Chronicles of Narnia lecture by listing reasons that they should be read in published order. I remember vehemently quarreling about that fact with the friend in fourth grade. It was my own little fourth grade soapbox, I suppose. As our professor argues, you should read the books in the order published, because the first book drops you right in the thick of the dramatic arc of Narnia's story, which makes for much more interesting and dramatic storytelling. Also, that's how real life works. While the story of creation stretches back for eons and eons, we arrive in the middle of everything. Our own stories start not at the beginning of time, but at random moments in time.
And C.S. Lewis clearly meant for the books to be read in the published order. Besides the little editorial comments that one can find in several of the Chronicles that reference this, the most important point in this argument is Aslan. In The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan is a mysterious and slightly terrifying being. The reader can only get a proper sense of how the children are feeling towards Aslan if they themselves are slightly trepidatious, and share in the excitement and uncertainty of who He is. The unveiling of Aslan is a glorious moment, and would be ruined if a reader had read about Him in a previous book. There is an indescribable sense of familiarity with Aslan that grows throughout the books. And that is what Lewis was working to achieve through his Chronicles. As our professor writes:
Combine all this when we arrive at the threshold of the Chronicles of Narnia: Lewis is showing truth to the reader. He is not describing it, circling it, propositionalizing it, categorizing it, filing it, footnoting it, or recounting it. He is showing it. He is showing a truth to us in order to create new capacities in us. He does not describe emotions in his fiction, he tries to create a sentiment in the reader.
Because, to paraphrase the Great Lion himself, once we grow familiar with Him in the world of Narnia, we can begin to know Him as Himself in our world.

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