If you could actually thank C.S. Lewis...
...wouldn't you want to? I certainly would.
He may have died long before I was born, but his books came to me like letters from a kind and witty and child-hearted godfather. Narnia companioned my childhood. Cair Paravel became a home within my thought that I roamed in imagination. The Pevensies were comrades in my play and challenged me to bravery. Talking stars and valorous mice and dryads peopled my dreams. When my siblings and I rigged up the oak tree in our front yard and called it a ship, it was the Dawn Treader I considered myself to be sailing. And it was Aslan's country I desired to find.
Ah, Aslan. Bold and beautiful, never tame. Who can fathom the power of a story in which Christ bounds in, unfettered by the usual assumptions and in a form so wondrous and wild? I loved Aslan. And even as a little girl, I knew it was God I was learning to love through him.
When I grew up and began to wrestle with the reality of that God, again Lewis (and the old picture of Aslan) came to my rescue. I have read letters that Lewis wrote to his actual godson, and the kindly, bracing advice, the take-yourself-lightly tone and the urge to throw one's whole self into the loving of God were familiar to me. I had already encountered that eminently insightful voice in Lewis' spiritual and apologetic works. Like the kindly godfather he was, he walked me through doubt, assuaged my frustration; his words pulled me back from the brink of disbelief. And the stories that came from that vivid imagination of his taught me to hope that every longing of my heart would one day find its home.
So yes, if Lewis were anywhere on earth, I'd trek my way to him, shake his hand, and say the thanks that's been years in the making. I can't wait to do it in heaven. But I can make a down payment on that thanks right now. And I simply have to tell you about this rather momentous opportunity. Perhaps you'd like to join me?
C.S. Lewis is about to get a memorial in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey. This is immensely exciting. I've written about Westminster before, and the impact its many heroes had upon my heart. For Lewis to be honored there is to add him to that great company, to affirm his works of creation, imagination, and instruction as something heroic. It means that thousands of people will encounter him when they visit, remember his works, or maybe discover them (and Aslan) for the first time. But it's a project that needs support. You can visit the website to read this invitation:
On 22nd November 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of C.S. Lewis’s death, Westminster Abbey will be unveiling a memorial stone to Lewis in Poets’ Corner. A two-day conference and a thanksgiving service will be part of the memorial project. The Dean of Westminster has kindly given his permission for this memorial, but the Abbey itself does not finance such projects, and so we invite your support. If you have valued Lewis’s writings and personal example and would like to contribute, please give generously. The total cost will be about £20,000. A list of donors' names will be deposited among the papers of the Oxford Lewis Society in the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.
I intend to accept the invitation and I decided to share it with you. I thought a few of you might feel about Lewis as I do. Perhaps you'd love to be part of honoring his legacy, affirming his influence upon the spiritual imaginations of countless people. After all, he taught us to live our own stories awfully well.
So, you can visit the official website here: Lewis in Poets Corner.
You can donate to the memorial here.
And just for the fun of it, you can also leave me a comment with some of your favorite Lewisian quotes. I'll start:
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” - C.S. Lewis in Till We Have Faces