(A note of introduction from Veritas)
One of the hardest things about not being in school together during this shutdown is watching the calendar tick past the each of the special events our school and classes had planned. Field Trips. Theater productions. Special feasts and celebrations.
Truly, there is much that the whole world is mourning and missing as we shelter at home and do our part to help this coronavirus storm pass. And missed school events are a minor thing when compared to the greater suffering we are all trying to buffet by staying home. Yes, we realize that while we are safely tucked away with our loved ones, with health and home intact, we have much for which to be grateful.
And so, while we miss being together as a school family and taking part in the delightful traditions that make the fabric of Veritas Academy, we will find ways to capture some of that goodness and release it into our individual households. All of you, whether you are part of our current school family or just friends of Veritas, are encouraged to do the same: to find ways to make meaningful new traditions a part of this unexpected and extended time together.
In Classical Christian Education, immersive experiences like feasts, parades, and parties play an important part in our curriculum. You can read more about that here - about why Veritas finds value in laying aside uniform and studious rigor to dress up, play games, drink and dine, and put on a grand affair. These experiences shape our learning and cement moments in our minds. One of these such events is our annual Narnia Feast at Cair Paravel.
This year, though the Feast was missed at school due to the closure, we felt it was important enough to still make it happen with a live, virtual event for our families to join in together at home (you can get ideas for your own At-Home Narnia Feast here). Why? Well, at Veritas, we just love Narnia and C. S. Lewis. And just as the faun bemoaned in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe that under the White Witch's rule it was "always winter, but never Christmas," so it seems today, as we spend long days at home with all businesses closed just like on Christmas...except it's not. But there is hope, and you might find some here.
If you need a little inspiration for why a Narnia Feast might be worth celebrating in the midst of this dark and uncertain time, read on for a beautiful essay penned by Veritas Omnibus teacher, alumni parent, and friend of our school, Leslie Bustard.
Three Truths To Which We Can Cling From C.S. Lewis' Narnia
Teaching 7th grade Secondary Books for the past three years has been a pure delight for me. What a gift to walk through the land of Narnia with my classes, and to help them see how C.S. Lewis used his imagination, molded by his love of two favorite authors (E. Nesbit and George MacDonald), his knowledge of medieval literature, and his rootedness in the Christian story, to write the Chronicles of Narnia. One cannot help but be drawn in to these stories; one cannot miss that C.S. Lewis loved his readers and loved telling a good story. I understand why a parent starts reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as soon as their child can sit still for a chapter, but then needs to pick the story up again for their own pleasure.
As I would often say to my students, C.S. Lewis used words in such a way that would “show, not just tell” us something. He invited us in to use our imagination, all the while he was weaving an engrossing story. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when spring came to Narnia, and the winter curse was being broken, we stumbled along with Edmund, and experienced with him what the coming spring looked like and sounded like. We felt the ground grow muddy and heard the birds singing. Lewis didn’t merely tell us spring had come, he showed it to us. Telling a good story and telling it well was very important to C.S. Lewis, just as important as the foundational, Biblical truths he was pointing to. He was laying out in front of us a feast of truths about God and the world, but trusting us to see what we were ready to see.
When C.S. Lewis wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and then the rest of the Narnian tales, he sought to write stories that he himself would want to have read as a child. But he also wanted to write stories that would re-enchant his readers with the truths of the Christian faith as found in the Scriptures. These stories can be summed up as “The Great Supposal” —suppose the Creator God of the Scriptures chose to make another world, what would it look like for the Son of God to act there? Writing these stories with this vision, he wanted to baptize the imaginations of those reading them—so that people who thought they knew everything about Christianity (but were dulled by their knowledge) could be re-awakened to its beauty; and so people who did not accept Christianity (because they assumed they knew what it was all about) could encounter these truths with new eyes.
It is with Lewis’s desire to re-enchant us that I want to share three truths. It was hard to select just three; each book expresses such richness about the Christian life—from the sacrificial love in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, to transformational grace in The Silver Chair, to providential care in Horse and His Boy. These are my three favorites, and I think they can speak into these present times.
Love. Think. Speak.
In The Magician’s Nephew, we meet the great lion and Son of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea, Aslan, singing the world into existence. With words forming a rich visual tapestry, Lewis helps us imagine Narnia—it’s land and animals—coming to life. The climax of this creation account is when he chooses certain pairs of animals, big and small, and brings them to himself, breathes his warm breath on them, and says “Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak.”
Love. Think. Speak. He is calling them to reflect himself in this newly created world and to steward it in his name.
This is what God has done with us at creation. He made us, male and female, in his image and calls us to love, think, speak—just as he did in creating and sustaining the world. Lewis’s words can encourage us, children and adults together, to move into the places God has called us, and use our imagination, gifts, skills, and even weaknesses, to build out God’s renewing goodness. Just as Adam and Eve were put in a place to imagine and work for its growth, we, too, are here, not merely to write our own stories, but to be in on the restoring work of God in the world.
Love with the grace of God in you, sacrificing yourself for others.
Think with the words and the wisdom of Scripture forming you.
Speak out of that love and wisdom, reflecting the wonders of God our Creator, Jesus our Savior, and the Spirit our Counselor.
Bear it Well.
We are inclined to exhort young people to go out and do big things for God. But we must resist this temptation because Jesus, at the cross and at his resurrection, already did the biggest thing that could ever be done—he reconciled a hostile world to God the Father and is making all things new. We are invited to participate in this work; he gives us the good works to walk in.
We are also called to Bear It Well.
In The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, at the end of the 100-years of winter, a winter without Christmas, the Pevensie children were crowned by Aslan to be Narnia’s Kings and Queens. After placing the crowns on their heads, he charged them to “Bear it well, Sons of Adam. Bear it well, Daughters of Eve.”
And so also God, with his grace in us, says this to his children, “Bear it well.”
Bear it well being image bearers of God, reflecting his existence to the world.
Bear it well by acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with him.
Bear it well by being imitators of Christ, as dearly beloved children, living a life of love.
We are all between the paws of the true Aslan
In the final book of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle, we meet among many others, King Tirian of Narnia. Midway through the book, Tirian and his followers are surveying the area where their enemies are encamped. The Narnians have been in one conflict after another with these foes, and they are readying themselves for a battle, which they know will be deadly. One character shares her anxious concern about what lies before them.
The king responds, “But courage, child: we are all between the paws of the true Aslan.”
Our days, even with the goodness of being God’s children, will have suffering. Job reminds us, “…but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). And so, we will experience trials and sorrow—we are all feeling the pressure right now as we live in this pandemic.
But courage, child, we are all between the paws of the true Aslan.
The resurrected and renewing hands of Jesus hold us. He is our Good Shepherd, who promises never to leave us or forsake us. We will walk through ordinary days, ones filled with light, as well as ones filled with darkness, but goodness and mercy will not abandon us. Jesus’ promise to always be with his people can give the courage we need to walk each of the days he gives us.
C.S. Lewis’s Narnian tales are for enjoying; his way with words, his beloved characters, and his engrossing stories are rich enough to be read more than once. I encourage you to reread them. And while you are delighting in them, have eyes to see what C.S. Lewis is doing in each tale; find the motifs and Biblical truths written in such fresh ways, that your love of Jesus and hope in his good works will take hold of your imagination, your mind, and your heart. And remember, “Courage, dear child, we are all between the paws of the true Aslan.”
Are you looking for a school for your child that truly brings learning to life and draws out God's truth, beauty, and goodness found in each subject? We invite you to schedule a virtual visit of Veritas Academy! Even though we aren't able to meet in our school building, Veritas is very much alive, finishing our fourth quarter of curriculum through our full online K-12 school. Click here for more information about our virtual tours and schedule one today to embark on a robust and rich education experience next school year!
Want a chance to keep your child's education going strong through the end of this school year? We're offering a selection of classes as a FREE online audit! Choose from a variety to suit different grades, with more to be added soon. Click for more information.