Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Land of Narnia

Oxford is the land of C. S. Lewis. He taught here, met his good friend, J. R. Tolkein here, and married here. He walked for many years over the same slates and cobbles we now walk, met at same pubs, the Lamb and the Flag or the Eagle and Child with the Inklings, a group of writers whose works are now the stuff of legend. C. S. Lewis became a Christian here. He and the other Inklings, he said, represented "mere Christianity," that is they agreed on the basics, but held differing beliefs. Together their collective talent became a river of creativity from which they all benefited. I get goose bumps when I realize that Lewis and Tolkein traveled the same hills that we do and saw the same fields stretching over the horizon. All that separates us is a few years. And a lot of talent.

In honor of St. Peter's Narnia week, we went to evensong at Magdalen College where Lewis taught. The chapel is long and narrow. Dark wood seats line both sides of the choir leading to the altar in front of a stone frieze covered with a grid of figures that goes from the high ceiling all the way to the floor. The stained glass windows, still light at 6 PM, grow dim during the service. I'm sure in his many years here Lewis sat in the same seats and looked at the same altar. As we listened to the plainsong, we thought of everyone at home so busy engaged in bringing Lewis' worlds back to life. He had so much to say. He said it with his pen and his imagination with truth and kindness and a little mystery.

1 comment:

Eric said...

I bet the chapels of Oxford don't have stages built over them so the children can do plays. Narnia, and all of the plays, reflects the priority St Peter's places on its children.

I'm glad you're adjusting to the culture shock of going from Ghana to the UK (hard to think of a bigger change). Wait til you get back to the US (or drive in Greece)--I remember coming back to the US from Australia and it took a real effort of will to remember that the yellow line goes on the same side of the car as the driver does!