Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Children Need Magic

As a child, I had supreme confidence in cause and effect. I put out cookies and milk for Santa; in the morning there was an empty glass and a plate of crumbs. I put my tooth under my pillow; in the morning there was a quarter (my parents were cheap). The ginko trees leaves turned golden and fell; in the spring they grew back new and green. I scraped a scab off my elbow - because like Eustace says, it hurts like Billy O, but it is so fun to see the nasty thing come off; and new peachy skin grows back. The grass dried up in the long summer days; the evening thunderstorms brought it back to life.

Christ died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

The story of fall, winter, spring is woven in our hearts, but children have the cleanest grasp of its power because they haven't learned to explain things away. If they are allowed to be "men with chests," they can retain a vision of the beauty in this world, even when things are at their blackest, because the darkest night is just before dawn.

That's why children need magic. That's why they need Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and ghost stories and elves and centaurs and Aslan and hobbits and jack-o-lanterns and The Snow Queen and Hansel and Gretel. And the stranger and starker the better; the least schmaltzy and commercialized the better. Lewis called this a "baptism of the imagination," and it is just as important as teaching straightforward theology. I don't remember the lessons in Sunday school, but I remember my grandmama rocking me and saying "The murmuring pines and the hemlocks" as if it meant all the world. I remember turning off the lights to gaze at the Christmas tree with its enormous colored lights and lighted star. I remember getting goosebumps when I learned that the seeds from Diggory's magical apple grew into the tree which provided the wood for a wardrobe. And when we found out that it wasn't a train accident, but that the real Narnia was home at last....

When those children grow up, they will know why trees lose their leaves, and why rainbows follow rain. But the magic, otherwise known as wonder, will stay nestled inside, ready to spring up. And when those children meet the real Aslan, they will welcome Him as a friend.

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