Don't Forget the Stories

I am currently re-reading The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings for my two Oxford tutorials (I know, it's a hard life for an English major). The thing that really strikes me about re-reading these books is how much I've forgotten, or perhaps how much I've never really seen before. The fact of the matter is that I feel like it's the first time I've ever really read them. Maybe it's because I'm older, or maybe it's because I am willing to be younger. The point remains: I am reading my favorite stories again for the very first time, again. 

The feeling of seeing Aslan for the first time, or hearing Treebeard's voice, comes rushing back as I leaf through the pages. It reminds me of the feeling I have when I step off the plane on Maui and smell the sea for the first time in months. It's all at once nostalgic and novel; reminiscent and revealing. I am not the person I was the last time I smelled that sea: I am smelling it for the first time. When I was a child, I saw how deeply the children loved Aslan; now I see how deeply Aslan loves the children. I see Edmund's redemption in a way I didn't the last time around. When I was a child, I saw the pluck of the Hobbits; now I see how much Aragorn is willing to sacrifice. The world remains, but I am not the same. 

Narnia and LOTR are two of the stories that strike me like that. Not everyone has connected to those stories in particular. However, I think everyone - deep down - has stories and songs that strike them to the soul when they are revisited. After all, I had the same feeling of novel nostalgia - what CS Lewis called Joy - when I heard the Finale for Les Miserables on my iPod (and tried not to look too emotional... that would have been an awkward bus conversation). 

If a story has ever gotten into your bones and clung there, if a song has ever captured you wholly, don't lose it. Remember it. Recall it every now and then and believe that you really loved it. And, when the opportunity arises, make a cup of coffee and settle in for a long night of revisiting old friends as your new self. Don't forget the stories that shaped you; you never know what they might have to say this time around.