I love a good quote. When I find one I especially like, I add it to my email signature so observant readers can enjoy it, too. In recent months, I’ve closed out emails with the following thoughts:
“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” (Theodore Roethke)
“When one loves, one does not calculate.” (St. Terese de Lisieux)
These days, my signature line features a new quote, one that I don’t plan to replace anytime soon. It’s a statement by Francois Mauriac, a French Catholic writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1952.
“If you would tell me the heart of a man,” he said, “tell me not what he reads but what he rereads.”
I ran across this quote in Light from Heaven, the ninth book in Jan Karon’s Mitford Years series. It immediately brought to mind another series that, if you believe Mauriac, reveals my heart like nothing else—the Chronicles of Narnia.
Have I reread these seven delightful children’s books by C.S. Lewis? Again and again. And mostly as an adult.
I think I read the series for the first time when I was about 13. I didn’t really get into fantasy or science fiction when I was a kid (I still don’t, actually), so Narnia—what with the traveling between worlds, talking animals, unicorns and such—didn’t make much of an impression on me.
I don’t remember what made me pick them up again later. At some point, I bought a nice boxed set of the series from the Crossings book club, and maybe I felt a little guilty just letting that purchase collect dust on a bookshelf.
Whatever the case, the next time I started reading about Narnia, I couldn’t stop. Since then, I’ve gone through the whole series four or five more times. A few years into our marriage, Randy and I read them together out loud. Once we had children, we read them out loud again—first to Lilly, then to both girls.
Our latest go round, which we finished up a few months ago, was for Molly. She was too little to remember much from the last time we read the books as a family, and I wanted to introduce her to all my friends from Narnia.
She resisted at first. She has books she likes and often doesn’t want to read anything else. But I insisted, and it wasn’t long before she was hooked.
She’d sit wide-eyed on the loveseat, leaning up against Randy as he read, hanging on every word. It was beautiful.
I haven’t read much else by C.S. Lewis. I’ve just recently finished The Screwtape Letters, and I’ve never cracked open Mere Christianity.
I don’t know what that says about me. I just know Narnia is where I like to go. Where I wish I could go, actually.
I love the allegory of it all, the story behind the story, the hints of higher truth and deeper meaning. I love all the characters—human and animal alike—but my favorite is Lucy, the youngest Pevensie child who discovered Narnia through the back of that famous wardrobe.
I grew up in Sunday school and church. I had no shortage of knowledge about the Bible, God and Jesus, but to tell you the truth, it was mostly intellectual.
Until I met Lucy, that is.
Watching her interact with the lion Aslan on the pages of these books somehow made Jesus real to me, emotionally. Not that that I imagine Him as a lion, but as I saw the tender and loving way Aslan responds to Lucy, I saw Jesus.
It changed me, deep down.
For our anniversary last year, Randy got me a sheet of Narnia quotations that can be used as wall art. I’m still contemplating where many of them should go, but we have put a few in prominent spots around our house.
Like this one, placed above two matching frames filled with pictures from our adoption trips to China:
“This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.” (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)
And this one, above a long row of coat hooks in the mudroom:
“Some journeys take us far from home. Some adventures lead us to our destiny.” (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
There’s also one in the kitchen—center stage above the sink—that encapsulates the most life-changing thing I’ve ever read in any book, besides the Bible.
Next week, I’ll write about that quote, the story that comes with it, and the difference it has made in my life.
In the meantime, do you have a favorite quote that you’d like to share? It doesn’t matter who said or wrote it: Dr. Seuss, Theodore Roosevelt, John Wayne, the Apostle Paul—anything goes. Just slip it into the comments section so the rest of us can enjoy it too.
And who knows? Maybe your quote will end up in my email signature some day.