Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Narnia and the World of Imagination

An excerpt from my book Conversations with C.S. Lewis, which features a series of discussions between Lewis and an atheist ...

The bus landed gently. As the door opened, we exited. Unlike the gray town, we were now in bright daylight. Storybook clouds filled the vivid blue sky-white and cotton-like. Jack pointed to a hill. I looked up and saw large golden gates at the top.

"I thought the gates were pearly," I smirked.

"That's not where we are. Come, let's ascend."

As we reached the top of the hill an extraordinary and amusing site greeted me. I saw a mouse with strikingly dark fur, about two feet tall, wearing a thin gold circlet on its head. The circlet held a large crimson feather. As we approached, the diminutive creature, rapier at his side, first bowed, then spoke.

"Welcome, Sir Jack!" it squeaked. I almost laughed, but a stern look from Jack warned me against such behavior.

"It is a joy to see you again," smiled Jack. "May I-"

"Very well, if you must," answered the creature. "But only once."

Jack reached down, picked up the animal and gave it a gentle hug before setting it down again.

"And this, Sir Jack, must be your squire?" The diminutive creature looked in my direction, his piercing black eyes showing no fear, but rather boldness with a hint of disdain. It lifted its right hand to its face and began to twirl a whisker.

"No, this is Tom. He is my guest."

"I see. Enter, then, the world of Sir Jack's imagination."

The mouse gave another low bow. He gestured to the golden gates and as he did so they slowly opened. I noticed a plaque on one of the gates, which read, "Art thou for something rare, and profitable? Wouldest thou see a Truth within a Fable?"

Before I had time to ask Jack about the plaque, the gates were fully opened. I gasped at the sight before me. In the distance to my right I saw four children clothed in winter coats making their way through an area of snowy woods - an open wardrobe near them, much like the one I had stepped through earlier. The children stopped at a lamp post, apparently pausing to discuss something. Not too far from them I saw what looked like animals climbing out of the earth. Lower on the horizon a flying horse began its descent - two children riding upon it.

I turned to my left and saw colorful floating islands. A small red serpent, a seemingly gentle dragon (unlike Nigel), stretched its wings then curled up near a tree. I thought I caught a glimpse of a green-skinned woman dashing through the strange foliage. I looked up and saw a spaceship of some kind, but spherical, soaring against the backdrop of a starry sky.

In the distance loomed an enormous mountain; only it wasn't a mountain, but a giant. A woman on a horse approached it (or him), a determined look on her face. She held a gleaming sword in her hands.

The clanging of swords from another direction caught my attention. I looked and saw a veiled woman, fighting fiercely against a man. A crowd gathered round them. In another direction I saw an eerie castle. In the courtyard were countless statues of various mythological creatures - a centaur, a giant, dwarves, several animals.

Further away, upon a hill, I could barely make out a great golden lion gazing over all the scenes. Even though he was far away, his presence made me uncomfortable. He seemed to look everywhere. And yet, he also seemed to look right at me.

Copyright © by Robert Velarde. All rights reserved.


Jeff LaSala said...

I always loved that about Aslan. The way a person feels in his presence is always very telling.

Robert Velarde said...

Good point, Jeff. I think one of my favorite responses to Aslan is that of Uncle Andrew in The Magician's Nephew: "A most disagreeable place. Completely uncivilized. If only I were a younger man and had a gun -"