I love the song, “This is Home” that Switchfoot wrote for the Chronicles of Narnia movie – Prince Caspian. When we finally got to watch the movie the song made even more sense. And it also makes me feel a bit more wistful and melancholy every time I hear it.
See, I always wanted a Narnia of my own. I don’t remember how old I was the first time I read the Narnia books, but I do know it was pretty early on. I learned to read when I was three. Mama says it seemed like I went straight from learning the alphabet to reading books. I read Gone With the Wind in either the fourth or fifth grade, if that tells you anything about my voracious appetite for books.
I should probably stand up now and say, “My name is Sarah and I’m a book-aholic.”
I didn’t enjoy school during my growing up years. In Kindergarten I was miserable because I wanted to stay home with my Mama. And I was bored. I knew my alphabet, colors, shapes and numbers and that’s what they were trying to teach me. In first grade I was still bored. I remember getting the first grade reader that was supposed to last us for a good part of the year, taking it home and reading the whole thing. In the first night. I asked for another one the next day and was disappointed to find out there wouldn’t be another one for a while.
Other reasons I didn’t enjoy my school years…well, I was different. And we all know how cruel children can be to other children who are different. I was also naive, had very low self esteem and I was an easy target since I so desperately wanted to be friends with my classmates. None of that makes a good combination. I eventually learned to keep all my secrets to myself and that, for the most part, my only true friends were those found in my books. This is not to say I was entirely friendless, because there were a few friends in my life. But they were usually older than me and not in my class at school.
I remember reading books, like Narnia, and being terribly sad at the end because I couldn’t stay in the world my mind lived in while I was reading. Sad because I had to leave my dearest friends behind. Sad because I had to go to school the next day and be lonely, be afraid that I’d tell somebody too much and they’d use it to tease me later, be afraid that I’d let somebody get close and they’d turn around and hurt me.
Happy times for me were at home. Not just when I was reading, but outside roaming around our farm. We had a Big Pond up the hill from the house and a Little Pond right in front of the house. The Big Pond had trees all around it, some that were in pairs that made perfect gates. I would walk through the tree gates and into my own Narnia. The biggest tree at the Big Pond had a stump in front of it with a sapling shooting up either side of it. It made a perfect throne from which I could survey my kingdom.
One day as I was walking through the field behind our house I discovered a teeny tiny little pond that was the most fabulous place for a girl with an imagination. At one corner of the pond was a giant weeping willow tree with eight trunks. The corner parallel had a huge locust tree covered in long menacing thorns. The side opposite these two trees was lined with small trees with twisted trunks. Naturally the willow tree was the queen’s castle. The locust tree with all it’s thorns was the home of the Evil Being trying to take over the kingdom (the Evil Being changed form from week to week.) The Path of Twisted Trees was a secret passageway.
I found another place on my uncle’s part of the farm when I was a teenager and could ride the four-wheeler down the road and therefore explore more. I found another tiny pond with an island in the middle. It looked just like a doughnut. There was a tree standing at either end of the island like a sentry. A flowering tree was just off to the side. It was all so lovely in the spring. I called it Oranal.
Up the hill a bit from my Oranal was a pond that filled me with as much dread as Oranal filled me with delight. The first time I saw it I heard no singing birds around it, the wind barely seemed to blow. Dead trees stuck up from inside it. It was still and dead. I heard one lone crow caw. I named that place Riel.
I wrote a short story about the ongoing battle between the worlds my imagination built around those two little ponds.
Like the Switchfoot song says, “This is home. I’ve been searching for a place of my own, now I’ve found it.” I was home there, in my wild places, in my mind.
Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself – so to speak. I found self-confidence somewhere along the way. I don’t worry so much about what people will think of me, if I worry about it at all. I have wonderful friends and a fabulous husband who makes me blush every day.
I do still sometimes visit the places created by my imagination. I still love to read.
But … this is home. For now. There’s another home waiting for me later, my own special Narnia that our very own Aslan will call me to one day. But for now … this is home.