One of the earliest series I read as a kid was “The Chronicles of Narnia,” by C.S. Lewis. Even though I didn’t realize at the time that these were Christian based books, the lessons in the stories truly rang home with me. I enjoyed these books so much that I re-read them every five years or so…they just never get old. Also, as an older person and a Christian, I can now clearly see the connections to my faith that was implied in the writing. Even if you aren’t a Christian, these are just excellent books.
In these stories, C.S. Lewis is able to entertain us with simple basic lessons without getting preachy or theological. The biblical messages are there if you really look, but the stories are entertaining without knowing anything in the bible.
When I first read the books it was Summer and my favorite reading spot was in the backyard on a lawn chaise. Next to me was an old tv tray where I kept my soda and box of Mr. Salty pretzels. Also, strangely enough, I liked to read while listening to music back then. Because of that, certain songs will remind me of those books and I get the urge to read them all over again.
I eventually got my best friend to read the books as well and he became as smitten as I was. We were still pretty young, so our imaginations were on full speed. Near our house was a patch of woods by the train tracks that lied between the tracks and the AMC plant. To play there, we just had to sneak past the watchful eye of the train watchman at the switching station where the tracks split. We called this patch of woods “Narnia.”
A group of us would often play in these woods and we even built a treehouse. Whenever we played Narnia, the treehouse would be Cair Paravel, the famous castle of the kings and queens of Narnia. We would all play different roles with my best friend always picking Reepicheep, the valiant fighting talking mouse from the books. The smaller kids were usually dwarves with an occasional talking animal thrown in. We had a blast.
Sometimes we would get invaded by some rotten kids from the other side of the woods and it would turn into a fight of sorts. Lots of rocks were thrown but things really got serious when I brought my slingshot one day.
What made the train tracks so cool was that they were used by the iron ore companies up in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Penninsula of Michigan to transport little iron ore pellets to places like Chicago and so on. The pellets were the size of marbles and heavy, the perfect slingshot ammo. They also hurt like heck when you were hit by one, even without the slingshot.
Anyway, the day I brought my slingshot was the day the fight turned ugly. I had hit a couple of the rotten kids in the legs and they ran off crying. We thought we had finally won and freed ourselves of those kids, but they came back. They came back with some big kids. Two of the big kids had BB guns. The previous skirmish had turned into a full-fledged war.
We all ran from the BB gun onslaught, but me and my best friend stopped and climbed into the treehouse. We decided to fight. The rest of the kids kept going. So now it was the two of us against about seven rotten kids. I had a full bag of the iron ore pellets so I knew we could last a little while.
We would duck behind the larger tree branches after every shot, me firing my slingshot and my friend throwing rocks and whatever he could find up on the platform…mostly though, he ducked. I was hit twice in the arms by BB’s but since we were a distance away, it didn’t hurt as bad as it could’ve. I managed to hit each of them at least once and you could tell it hurt by their screams. Then we were assaulted on a different front and the rotten kids ran away. We had forgotten about the train watchman and his salt rifle. He was yelling and chasing the rotten kids and never noticed us up in the treehouse. When he was far enough away, we slipped down the tree and ran home. I wasn’t about to use my slingshot on the watchman.
Just like the children in the books, we got older and we grew out of hanging out at “Narnia.” The world took over and our innocence deserted us like it does for most of us. To this day, however, the lessons I learned from reading those books remains.