Oh Aslan, Aslan. I understand now. I understand.
It’s been so long. So long since I watched a movie of Narnia.
Since I saw you.
The oh-so-familiar scenes of Prince Caspian flash across the flatscreen TV. Sunlight pouring across forest floors, glacial rivers and arrow-head mountains. Characters waltz into play– the boys in armor who we argued about who was cutest (Grace, you and I know there’s no argument) and the girls with bows and arrows who we wanted to be. Fierce dwarves and even fiercer badgers. And then you… the shaggy golden mane, regal eyes, and with you, memories of childhood almost forgotten.
Hours upon hours of school holidays growing up were spent in front of the 1989 version of Prince Caspian. Now in my last year of university, I find myself here, the start of the mid-semester break, doing the same with the 2008 version. I reminisce with a chuckle about the time we convinced our 9th grade Modern World Literature teacher that Prince Caspian should count as part of our “modern world”. Not that I hadn’t read it before– I probably knew Narnia books better than any literature on the shelf. No, it wasn’t its newness that grabbed us as teenage freshman, it was the victory in that we gained a trophy of our early life to bring with us into our new context. Going to the movie theaters was extra credit.
Narnia was the world of my childhood and on through high school, too.
Therefore, so were you.
Yet something was different about it tonight, as I watched. Something about Narnia had changed.
You know how you always said that Peter and Susan were too old to come back after that second trip? That they had learned all they could from that world, and it was time to live in their own?
I always hated that. Even in high school.
I was Lucy, in age and spirit, wondering how on earth you could do that. Yes, yes, I knew you were in this world and you were called by a different name here, but something always cried mournfully inside of me… I don’t want to leave… please, not just yet.
And I see now, that then? I wasn’t supposed to.
“One day you’ll understand,” Peter comforts Lucy at the end of Prince Caspian, as it was his and Susan’s last time there.
And tonight, for the first time in my life, I see how those stories fed my soul, giving me a picture of your personality that has carried me through to life now. Oh, I have to live in this world. I hated the thought of leaving that training ground of truth, because at those times of my life, I wasn’t supposed to. But now I’m here, with you, Aslan. In my own world.
I only know that now,
because tonight, for the first time in my two decades of life,
Dear Aslan, I now see that life with you here holds far more adventure than I ever thought possible as a child. I couldn’t see your work in front of me then, but I could see it in Narnia. That is precisely why I needed it during those days. Now?
Oh, Aslan, Aslan. It’s been so long.
But if some day I can teach the children in my world, in my century, who you are–
with such truth-infused, beautiful stories,
so that one day they will learn that those stories are indeed real life…
… it will be enough.
“Dearest,” said Aslan very gently, “you and your brother will never come back to Narnia.”
“Oh, Aslan!!” said Edmund and Lucy both together in despairing voices.
“You are too old, children,” said Aslan, “and you must begin to come close to your own world now.”
“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“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.”
I understand better now.
I understand that over these past two and a half years,
it’s been so good
to meet you,
It’s what I always longed for.
Screenshots from Google Images in: Prince Caspian (2008) directed by Andrew Adamson; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) directed by Michael Apted.