I feel the story is well known enough that I don't really need to bother with a description of it so I'll skip straight to sharing our experiences this go around.
For starters, we ordered a box of Turkish Delight to be enjoyed every day during the reading. This is an annual treat for us and each of the children get a piece (or two) to enjoy each day. It's all very exciting and we enjoy it. If you've never had it, you've got to give it a try! There are multiple brands available on Amazon at fairly reasonable prices.
This is the third year that my oldest has listened to this particular story and he has it down pat for the most part. My second son also remembered a great deal of the story but despite the number of times we've referenced this book, my third born (age 5) didn't recall much of what happens in the book and I was therefore reminded of the importance to keep at this reading challenge, even if no one else ever joins in. This reading challenges gives us
This year's reading was also special because Bookworm5 is new to the family and she was given a Narnian name to match her siblings. (Four out of five of our kids are named after C.S. Lewis/Narnia in some form or fashion and so you can correctly ascertain that these books are sort of a big deal to me.) I didn't read this series until I was an adult but each year I re-read them I find that they have the incredible ability to drive certain scriptural truths home to me in fresh new ways. It should also be noted that the stories themselves are so imaginative it's easy to relax with them for the simple purpose of enjoyment.
During this particular reading I noted one thing, one sentence actually, that I wished to make note of and it's found in my favorite scene. Aslan has just returned to life after his sacrifice on the stone table. The girls, Lucy and Susan, have somewhat recovered from the shock of his death and have finished rejoicing with him in life. They ' no longer felt in the least tired or hungry or thirsty.' Aslan gives a loud, triumphant and terrible roar and then begins to focus on the business of gathering up an army of Narnians to join Peter in defeating the White Witch. With the girls by his side, Aslan says:
C.S. Lewis then says of their ride on Aslan's back:
"That ride was perhaps the most wonderful thing that happened to them in Narnia. Have you ever had a gallop on a horse? Think of that; and then take away the heavy noise of the hoofs and the jingle of the harness and imagine instead the almost noiseless padding of the great paws. Then imagine instead of the black of grey or chestnut back of the horse the soft roughness of golden fur, and the mane flying back in the wind. And then imagine you are going about twice as fast as the fastest racehorse. But this is a mount that never grows tired. He rushes on and on, never missing his footing, never hesitating, threading his way with perfect skill between tree-trunks, jumping over bush and briar and the smaller streams, wading the larger, swimming the largest of all." (Chapter 15, Deeper Magic From the Dawn of Time)
Aslan, as most scholars will agree, is representative of Jesus Christ. In this book he appears as a fictional character with enough things in perfect comparison so that by knowing Aslan for a little in Narnia, we might know the Lord better here in our own world. I love how Lewis describes the power and the might that is Aslan in this passage.
". . . [T]his is a mount that never grows tired."
Aslan had just made the ultimate sacrifice and yet rose victoriously back to life as a result of a deeper magic which the White Witch did not know. Death defeated, life triumphant! Still, there was work to be done. Peter and Edmund, along with a host of other Narnians were in the thick of a raging battle against all that was evil in Narnia. Their valiant forces were surely weary. Aslan, resurrected, thinks of them and begins actively working to bring them relief (and ultimate victory) but in this midst of this he also does not ignore Susan and Lucy. He will not leave them behind at the Stone Table. It is clear that they must come with him but Aslan also knows that they do not have the strength to go on running and fighting this battle. They can't possibly hold up. So what does he do? He tells them to climb up on him and ride on his back. He will bear their weight and he will carry them the distance necessary so that they might participate in and know the victory for themselves. Wouldn't it be easier for him to leave them behind? Perhaps, though it wouldn't have fulfilled the prophesy now, would it have?
Friend, are you weary? Climb up. There is likely still a long journey to go but the Lord invites you to ride on His back, so to speak.
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Creator of the ends of the earth does not grow weary.
He does not faint!
Wait on Him. He will renew your strength.
If you feel like you can't walk, and/or the distance from here to relief and victory is far too great -- RIDE! He invites you to do so.
I have this sculpture at the top of one of my bookcases. I've loved it because it represents my favorite scene from this book but this year it means a little more.
The road of life is long and filled with sorrows, sadness and challenges. But my ride is strong and does not faint or grow weary. Remember this, friend. Remember! You aren't being left behind in some remote place where you will be forgotten. The Lord invites you to come with Him, to participate in and to enjoy His victory.
For the glory of the Lord, RIDE!