St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Monday, November 22, 2021
Clive Staples Lewis November 29,1898 – November 22, 1963
four more birthdays
The prairie project

Clive Staples Lewis was born on November 29, 1898 in Ireland, and died in England on November 22, 1963, just an hour before President John F. Kennedy was murdered in the United States. Both were men much to be admired and remembered. But C S Lewis reminds us specifically that the church celebrates artists, musicians and writers – celebrates, in other words, the power of the imagination.
Lewis himself wrote: “Reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.”
As a four year old child Lewis began to call himself, “Jack” after his pet that had died; he used that name with his friend for the rest of his life. He was reading and writing stories before he was five. And he loved the Beatrix Potter stories, and all anthropomorphic animal tales. Even before the death of his mother when he was nine, he and his older brother created an entire imaginary world called, Boxen, a fantasy where animals ran everything. But Lewis was a lonely child, brilliant, introverted and lost without his mother. He was sent to a series of boarding schools, some horrible, some decent. He finally came home and was tutored so that he earned a place at Oxford. In 1917, before he could begin his studies, the military sent him to the Somme Valley in France where he first experienced the horrors of trench warfare. When he taught English at Oxford, he met J R R Tolkien and the two became close friends. They encouraged each other so much that Tolkien later said that had not Lewis loved Lord of the Rings and begged for more chapters, he might not ever have finished it. Lewis actually attributed his adult faith to conversations with the Roman Catholic Tolkien. He is famous for many books, but perhaps most for his fiction for children, The Chronicles of Narnia – which every child should know – and The Screwtape Letters, which he dedicated to Tolkien. That last is a series of letters of “advice” from a senior devil to a younger one. Lewis wrote it after listening to Hitler promise to “deal mercifully” with Britain after he conquered the island. He write: “While the speech lasts, it is impossible not to waver just a little. “Screwtape tells his young colleague: “He (God) really does want to fill the universe with lots of loathsome little replicas of himself – our war aim is a world on which our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself.” It has sometimes been said that both Tolkien and Lewis responded to post-WWI literature filled with cynicism, alienation, disillusionment and despair, in which the heroic is dead, by writing what they wanted to read. They both alluded to exactly that. In their stories they reasserted the supreme importance of the individual. They brought back the epic hero, using the language of myth and fairy tale.
We humans are wired for narrative. We learn everything best by story. And if the WWII era, terrifying as it was, caused them to reassert hope and beauty in myth, this time in which civilization, and our democracy hangs in the balance, is no less so. And beauty, courage, hope and the importance of every individual matters as much as ever. Find a fairy tale. Or a myth. And then read another one. They are truer on the inside than anything in the news.
More Birthdays! I got so excited about Will Grainger’s birthday last week that I forgot his mom, Rachel, who celebrated on last Saturday, November 20, along with our friend, Jen Wilhelm. This week we celebrate Lexi Walker‘s birthday on Thursday, November 25, and Melody Adams on Saturday November 27.

The Tarp-laying, first stage of the prairie project.
This morning Gale Roberts, Stephen Grainger, Rocky Walker, Ryan Williams and Lloyd Hensley laid out the first 60 x 100 ft tarp beyond the playground area. It was heavy, and the wind wanted to carry it up and away, but sandbags actually do work to hold it in place. This tarp, and others, will remain in place till this time next year, when the grass will be dead, and new prairie grasses and flowers will be seeded.
But Lexi, RB and Lindsey were there, as were Amelia and Will – Here are some more photos of the morning, plus one of Amelia, Will and John Mark delivering the sandbags they had filled. Finally in place – It doesn’t look like much yet – but wait a year and a half and see!

By then the many trees which will be planted in the inside of that old-tree perimeter next Spring
will be up a couple of feet, too!



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