What are you too old for?
Lucy Barfield, I hope you weren’t too old to step into the magical world that your godfather created. It was (and is) a wondrous world, full of happy fable and soaring themes. Its talking animals and angry witches engaged my own heart, and its lion still reminds me that there is a greater Story than what I can understand. His fearsome/consoling voice still beckons me to slow down and look deeper.
I stumbled across C.S. Lewis’ dedication of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to his goddaughter Lucy and was deeply moved by it:
My dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather.
~ C. S. Lewis.
It took Lewis 10 years to write what has become one of our most beloved fantasy sagas.The tales that lead us through Narnia and back introduce us to an awe-inspiring (and literally awful) character - Aslan.
Lucy Barfield was 4 years old when Lewis started the book and 14 when he finished it. Thus, his comment in the dedication makes more sense to us - “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
Here’s my question for you… what are you too old for?
I think C.S. Lewis understood something about you (and me) that we don't grasp very often. Somewhere between childhood and “making a living,” we quit wondering. Our fascination is killed amidst resumes, educations, jobs, car payments, the banality of sports, fashion and deodorant. We just stop being… thrilled.
We live for many years missing the chirp of crickets, the scudding of cottony clouds, and the dew on flower petals. We are self-absorbed and thus our wonder genes atrophy.
We think we’re too old to wonder.
The truth is that only those who reach maturity in life recover their wonder. Some of us are shoved back into it through uncontrollable crises or dismay. Others of us are invited back in and stumble into beauty, unprepared for its blinding brilliance and yet comforting warmth.
Yet only the mature soul can shed self-absorption and re-discover awe and awe-fullness. Such maturity is not dependent on our age. Our children demonstrate “faith like a child” and stun us at times with their profound insights. College students in rare moments will embrace sheer, silly playfulness. And senior adults will light up a room with their warm smile and misty eyes as they’re moved by a tune that conjures up yesterdays.
Grow in wonder
By being “too old,” I think I mean… self-absorbed. How can you and I grow in wonder today? It’s not too late to be amazed again. I think that a steady practice of embracing amazement may just cure the sinking soul.
For me, a clearer view of Jesus grows wonder and reduces the mundane every time. When I read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and position myself to observe and ponder the words and actions and import of what Jesus was teaching and revealing, my wonder is kindled, and my soul grows in hope.
What restores or kindles your wonder?
I sometimes feel like Lucy, Susan, Peter, and Edmund when they first heard Mr. Beaver mention Aslan.
And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning — either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into the dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside.
That inside jump? It’s wonder. I hope you’re not too old to experience it.
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For more reading
Of course, if you haven’t read the Chronicles of Narnia, I urge you to do so. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is actually the second book in the series. The Magician’s Nephew is the first and sets the stage.
The Chronicles of Narnia box set
The Secret of Aslan by David Mathis on Desiring God, October 10, 2014
Not Safe, But God by Summit Ministries
16 Facts About The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Joy Lanzendorfer, Mental Floss, September 14, 2014
If you do a search for the word “amazed” in the New Testament, you’ll be treated to some wonder-inducing moments. You’ll find that people were consistently amazed by and in Jesus.
“So the crowd was amazed when they saw those unable to speak talking, the crippled restored, the lame walking, and the blind seeing, and they gave glory to the God of Israel.” (Matthew 15:31)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (Harper Collins, 1965)
I actually just read.thr Narnia series.st 61 years if age. I couldn't out them down
Fabulous books and they created within me a sense of wonder. I'm finding as I get.older my sense of or wonder is growing. And I'm noticing the beauty around me.just in things like a butterfly, or thr birds in our yard I love to watch at the bird feeders. And even more so I am totally in wonder at my grandchild soon to be grandchildren. The way our grandsons eyes light up when he sees me snd smiles at me. Snd I can't wait to meet our second grandbaby and see the smile in his or her face snd hear.those sweet coo's.