A Shore-side View of the Pilgrimage: My 2nd Anniversary Reflection

I am writing this post from one of Prince Edward Island’s gorgeous beaches. This Eastern Canadian Island of Hesperides is filled with incredible beaches: miles of blonde sand slicing the world between an endless blue ocean of white cresting lines and rolling dunes of sharp green marram grass. It is, of course, impossible beauty. It is where I live.

And it is where I began A Pilgrim in Narnia two years earlier. Precisely here, actually, in space and time.

Two years ago our family decided to flee the city heat and headed to PEI’s north shore with our good friends. Our kids played along the shore, building sandcastles and chasing hermit crabs under their parents’ watchful eyes. As the adults chatted on car blankets with cold drinks and granola bars, I read through C.S. Lewis’ Letters to An American Lady. I knew I was going to read Surprised by Joy by C.S. LewisLewis seriously, and I thought that his letters might be the most revealing things he wrote. I still think I was right.

And out of that hot sun and bright sand and tattered hand-me-down book came my first post, “The Art of Letter Writing in the Digital Age.” It is where I share my hatred of email—dread is a better word—and how Lewis shared of himself in writing letters to fans even though he shared in Surprised by Joy his belief that,

“it is an essential of the happy life that a man would have almost no mail and never dread the postman’s knock” (143).

I still like that post. And I still hate email.

Well, two years has past. I have written 153 posts—this is number 154. I have had more than 55,000 views, hundreds of people get posts delivered to their mailbox, and over 1100 have commented. I have been freshly pressed, referred by other blogs, retweeted by Richard Dawkins and Frederick Buechner, and included in a network of digital friends. I The Place of the Lion by Charles Williamshave had great posts completely ignored, and my tongue-in-cheek review, “50 Shades of Bad Writing” was the hottest blog of 2012—even though I wrote it on a whim and it has little to do with pilgrimage in Narnia.

Most significantly, this blog has developed into a career, as I work toward a PhD in C.S. Lewis’ fictional worlds. It has been a profound experience.

So it is fitting that I am here at the shore again: the same great friends, white sand, a cloudless sky, sitting on an old car blanket with cold drinks in hand. I’ve got an eReader this time instead of a tattered book, and I’m reading Charles Williams instead of C.S. Lewis. Our kids are no longer on the shore, but are neck-deep in ocean, looking for lobsters and pearls. Our conversation is on hard things this time—it is a hard time—but we have deepened. The wine has aged, and so have we. We didn’t plan this anniversary gathering; I’ll chalk it up to the staff work of the Omnipotence, to use Charles Williams’ phrase.

Taking a moment to reflect, though, allows me to put things in perspective. My world is less certain than it was two years ago. Time is fleeing, the wavers are taking more of the dunes into the ocean as each season passes. My ideas are bigger, my choices are riskier. Although many things are not as I would wish them to be, I would be hard pressed to change anything (except I would have done a better job of that 50 Shades blog).

I don’t know where this is all going—that knowledge isn’t even promised to us in Faerie. But this I love. Many thanks to all who have chosen to walk along with this Pilgrim in Narnia.

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About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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