I am in Narnia as I write this morning. I literally opened the wardrobe, parted the thick, furry coats, and stepped through the door onto a little ledge among the mountain top vista which surrounds me as I write. It is an incredible place of solitude, and offers me a small point of light to start my day simply by being present in this space, somewhere between worlds of flesh and spirit. A thin place, as my Celtic ancestors would call it.
I am on retreat, and this Narnia Closet is just one feature of this amazing place (the Bellfry) which was so deeply and thoughtfully constructed. The Narnia closet can be found in the meditation room, which is where I spent the night in blissful solitude before rising at dawn to walk the labyrinth at sunrise, mountains surrounding me on all sides. I lack words to convey how deeply meaningful, resonant, and transformative this sequence of contemplative opportunities has been for me, especially on this Summer Solstice.
This particular retreat offers me a mix of community and solitude. I am the outgoing Past President of PLIDA and our members have gathered from across the U.S. and Canada to spend the weekend connecting, planning, supporting, and working. As I transition away from formal leadership, I have carved out time to be present and connected with this amazing community of healers and leaders. I have also carved out time for solitude as my own personal and professional journey continues to wind me through new paths and allows new doors to open. I am intentionally relishing each step. It is intentionality that propels me to chronicle my journey here and now.
Back to Narnia, though. I grew up loving each and every book in the Chronicles of Narnia. Lucy, Tumnus the faun, Aslan, Peter, Edmund, Susan, the White Witch filled my summer days of childhood. I still have my well read boxed set of paperbacks. I still have my favorite plot points and quotes. I still think so much human yearning and divine trust is summed up in these simple conversations and characters. I read, and read, and re-read the poignant moments in particular. Aslan’s words and the children’s authentic quest to understand them spoke to my young spirit:
“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are -are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. 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.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
In my first semester of college, I was exposed to more of the literary writings of C.S. Lewis and began to view the tales in new ways as I moved through childhood and adolescence into adulthood. I recall The Great Divorce was required reading in one of my classes, and I took away from that particular reading Lewis’ concept of the journey not only through Narnia, but through life and death as beckoning us to journey further up and further in. Although I have meandered greatly in my spiritual journey, that core concept is one that has retained throughout my path, and this morning as I journeyed the mown path toward the labyrinth, it was that same concept, retained across years and miles and spiritual meandering that caught my mind and drew my attention Inward. Upward. Onward. And so, I find myself perched in Narnia now following that walk, finding light and solitude in this thin place before rejoining my colleagues.
Befitting this venue, I will close with a few more words from C.S. Lewis before joining my colleagues for our day of togetherness. In both solitude, and in community, there is light. May we be attentive to the light and miracles that cross our paths on each step of the journey.
Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.
. — C. S. Lewis