This wasn’t planned, but somehow we’ve been reading books lately that have prepped the kids so well for Easter. There’s nothing like a good story to help children understand real things in life.
This last month we re-read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe since Charlie didn’t really get the message when we read it a year ago. This time they were both totally into it. That story is such a great way to help young children understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know we all felt the spirit as I teared up trying to get through the most symbolic parts. I love the way C.S. Lewis puts things, somehow he can make the same book deeply interesting to both children and adults. I especially love the chapter when Aslan comes back to life, it really makes you feel the thrill of new life and resurrection. If you haven’t read this book, read it. The movie is ok, but does NOT do it justice. This week as we talked about the events of the Saviors life and the crucifixion and resurrection the kids could grasp it because of the truths taught in this allegory.
Here’s one of my favorite passages from the book. This is right after Aslan has given his life for Edmund the traitor. It’s much better when you’re reading it in the context of the whole story with a captive audience listening, but it’s still pretty powerful on it’s own.
At that moment they heard from behind them a loud noise—a great cracking, deafening noise as if a giant had broken a giant's plate.... The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.
"Who's done it?" cried Susan. "What does it mean? Is it more magic?"
"Yes!" said a great voice from behind their backs. "It is more magic." They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
"Oh, Aslan!" cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad....
"But what does it all mean?" asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.
"It means," said Aslan, "that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward."
And then there’s the trusty old “Country Bunny” book. This is a classic Easter story that we bring out every year. Oh, how I love it. It’s about a simple little country bunny who dreams of being one of the five Easter bunnies, but instead, finds herself a mother of 21 babies! She is a fabulous mother (oh, how I wish I could train my kids as she does!) and motherhood teachers her to be wise and kind and swift and cleaver– all of the qualities that an Easter bunny needs. So, in a round about way, her dream of becoming an Easter Bunny comes true. I can’t get through it dry eyed.
One of my favorite stories of all times is Les Miserables. For some reason as we were driving in the car a few weeks back I started to tell the kids this long, rather complicated story. Hazel was hooked after hearing the part about the bishop giving Jean Val Jean, a criminal who had stolen from him, his precious candle sticks. She wanted to know every detail of the story, and Charlie followed right along. We’ve been listening to the music (which tells the story so beautifully) and reading a super abridged version. I have loved falling in love with this story all over again. It is so full of real charity and service and so many great lessons about mercy and true Christianity.
I think the final song from the musical has such powerful lyrics. They’re not quite as stunning read as they are sung, but I love reading them at Easter time and thinking about how they apply to the atonement and resurrection of Christ.
Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.
For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.
They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
They will walk behind the plough-share,
They will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward.
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!