Feast of St Andrew of Crete
IT'S THANKSGIVING, 1981, and I am eleven years old. My sister, Susie, is nine, and my cousins, Ann and Esther, are ten and eight respectively. Freshly stuffed with my Aunt Sonja’s famous roasted turkey, we girls—having talked nonstop since we arrived, having made an audiotape mimicking the best of the Muppets (“Swiss chocolate…from the Indies!”), and having told each other our deepest and darkest secrets—have run out of things to do.
“Let’s go to Narnia,” I whisper. The other three girls look at me like I had suggested we try to get to heaven.
“Seriously,” I say. “I know it sounds weird, but before it happened to Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy, they probably thought it sounded weird, too.”
Susie, Ann, and Esther look at each other quizzically. Usually, they were up for weird schemes: Esther was the one with the Muppet idea and Susie was famous for her worm-hypnotizing-on-the-Fischer-Price-record-player experiment. We all look at Ann. Ann was the mature one, the prudent one, the one who reminded us of what trouble we would get into if we did this or that, the one we depended on to provide a modicum of sense in the midst of our insensibility.
Ann nods tacitly.
We didn’t have any train stations nearby, so we scanned my cousins’ yard for possible launching zones. Where, we wondered, might Aslan be most likely to see us and honor our intentions to go beyond the veil? Surely he had a soft spot for four determined mashed-potato-filled girls. Surely our faith alone, ridiculous and scandalous as it was for our tiny Presbyterian souls to even hint at, would be enough to earn us an infinitesimal glance of the mystical country?
Then, there we were, sitting like birds on the rail of our cousins’ deck, and because it seemed appropriate, holding hands with knuckles white as eggs and just as fragile, our eyes shut so tight stars shone under our tissue paper eyelids, that we prayed with every ounce of our beings to go to Narnia.
Moments later, we returned from our mutual journeys. Nothing had changed. Aunt Sonja and mom were still scraping brown gravy off white dishes in the tiny, steaming kitchen. Dad and Uncle Vic were still discussing the theologies of Romans 9 in the living room. Our younger brothers and sisters were still pressed in cribs like fat, yeasty dinner rolls, sleeping off the pumpkin pie.
Hours after our attempt, one of us finally admitted her disappointment. Nothing really happened…did it? We had just sat on that splintery deck holding sweaty hands, dreaming dreams of our own imaginating. Nothing more than the silliness of reenacting The Muppet Show or hypnotizing worms.
We didn’t go to Narnia that day.
Or—I wonder three decades later—did we?
Amy Henry blogs about faith and family at www.wholemama.com