Thursday, November 29, 2007

Beautiful Birthdays: Louisa, Lewis, L'Engle

November 29 is one of my very favorite days of the year. It doesn't seem to matter if I'm cold, tired, overwhelmed, stressed, or any number of other things I can often find myself being. This is always a good day because I get to remember and celebrate the birthdays of three writers near and dear to my heart: Louisa May Alcott (1832); Clive Staples Lewis (1898); and Madeleine L'Engle (1918).

When I posted on this day last year, calling it the "literary day of days," Madeleine was still with us. She has since joined the saints in glory. I enjoyed spending time yesterday afternoon reading through a selection from Walking on Water, and also her Christmas poem "O Simplicitas."

The Child born in a stall?
I understood it: all.
Kings came in adoration.

Perhaps it was absurd;
a stable set apart,
the sleepy cattle lowing;
and the incarnate Word
resting against my heart.
My joy was overflowing.
The shepherds came, adored
the folly of the Lord,
wiser than all men's knowing.

I love that whole poem (though I'm only quoting the final part).

But today has belonged to Lewis. That's because, providentially, the sweet girl and I are finishing up our read-aloud of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which we began in the car during thanksgiving travels. Today we came to chapter 16, when Aslan, with Susan and Lucy, arrives at the courtyard of the White Witch. He breathes on the statues and they all come back to life. The sweet girl, who has been enjoying (and seeming to grasp much better than even I expected) the whole book, seemed enthralled with this scene. She kept asking, with wonder, "how did he make the stone people real again?" or saying things like, "you can't melt stone!" to which I keep replying things like, "He's Aslan. He's the King of the beasts, the King of all Narnia. And he's very powerful!"

S. has a wonderful sense of humor too. She often seems to "get" things that are supposed to be funny, even when you can tell she's not entirely sure yet why they're funny. I think her favorite part in the whole scene today was when Aslan breathed on the other lion in the courtyard (the smaller lion whom Edmund, still lost in his folly, half-hoped might be Aslan himself). She kept giggling over there being "two lions in this chapter" and seemed delighted when the smaller lion kept running around, oh so proudly, thrilled to be included by Aslan in the task of rounding up the other animals. "Did you hear what he said? Us Lions. That means him and me." She liked that part so much that, when the chapter ended, she ran to her room to get her two stuffed lions. One is very small (she's had him since she was a baby) and the other is a larger one she got for her birthday. She made the big one Aslan and had him breathe on the little one so he could come back to life.

Happy Birthday, Jack! Thank you for blessing us all with such wonderful stories. Thank you for imagining a faun by a lamppost in a snowy wood. Thank you for giving us Aslan. Thank you for giving me stories I can pass on, with such joy, to my little girl.


Erin said...

Ooh, what a wonderful reading experience you must be having! I envy her a bit, hearing it for the first time! Her re-enactment with the lions reminds me of when I read Watership Down and I named all of my stuffed rabbits - of which I happened to have several - after characters in the book...

Beth said...

I love it! (And I still haven't read Watership Down, can you believe it? Must remedy that soon.)

Yes, re-reading Lewis with Sarah has been wonderful. And to think this is just the beginning! We've got so much more to go...

Today we started Madeleine's *24 Days Before Christmas.* So she has now met Vicky Austin as well!