As Thanksgiving nears, I’m noticing a lot of people listing what they are thankful for. Were I to post one, towards the top of that jumbled list, above almost everything, really, would be fantasy fiction. Now, before you roll your eyes at me, or click away from my seemingly lack of connection with the real blessings around me, I have to inform you that without a good dose of said fiction, I lose touch of reality. Ironic, isn’t it?
Now, first let me clarify: I’m referring to fantasy that engendered and continued in the tradition of C.S. Lewis’ and J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. The stories which take their readers outside of this world in order that they might encounter a reality greater than the worries that bind us down and give us tunnel vision about the life we live.
For me, in particular, such stories awaken my heart–releases it from the ennui of daily demands. When I was engrossed in my college classes, overwhelmed by a little-to-academic of an interest in Calvinist theology, Leaf by Niggle reawakened me to the beauty of a world in which men desire to create because their Maker has put it into them. He, loving beauty, has given it to them to participate in beauty with Him. The dried hardness of my heart softened under the down pour of beauty that I read. Somehow, my heart was awakened to read God’s love in the Bible, rather than trying to figure Him out.
Similar stories dot the past four years since then. This week, I was reminded of that first encounter as I read the third in a series by Andrew Peterson: The Monster in the Hollows. I really can’t say more than that since any more would ruin the first two books (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, and North! Or Be Eaten), and ever since I ruined the surprise ending of The Scarlet Pimpernel for myself, I have been exceedingly adverse to any sort of surprise ruining. What I can say is that once again, refreshment found its way into a dry and weary heart, reminding me that the reality I see around me is not all encompassing: life does not consist of being prepared for the next class and scaling yet another stack of student work. Nor does it consist of having control of a situation. The only way to live this life is to know that I am a small part of a bigger story. That, incredible as it seems most days, the Creator of this world has spoken all that surrounds me into existence, and upholds it by his word. Even more incredible, that He–Jesus–has walked on this earth, sacrificing Himself for me–and you–so that He could call me His own. Amazing facts that provide perspective as I, with cleared vision, turn back to the work which is mine to do now.
So, as 4 weeks remain of this term (whose end I will celebrate like no other), I will tend to my heart with yet another book: Jennifer Trafton’s The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic.