Today, November 29th, 2012, is C.S. Lewis's 114th birthday, three years past his eleventy first celebration. Why celebrate the birthday of a man long since sainted? Well, it's still his birthday, after all, even though he no longer ages. And though he now rests from his labors, his labors do not rest among us. His writings continue to awaken our imagination as we crawl through the wardrobe into Aslan's domain. His essays and books continue to defend the Christian faith and point the faithful and the skeptic to the endless joy he longed for.
And on the date of his birth, I can't help but recall one of my favorite Lewis quotations on "growing up." In our youth we look with haste to our birthdays; we long to grow up and become an adult. But the more you age and grow up the more you long for the simplicity of childhood. Indeed, in Jesus' own manner of teaching, we must all become like little children and thus enter the kingdom of God: utterly dependent and with complete trust and contentment in our heavenly Father. Thus we are reborn in Baptism and cry out Abba Father! And we dare not blush at the thought of being made into little children. Lewis certainly did not. We welcome child's play in the Biblical manner of speaking. It especially enlightens the reading of good books, including my favorite, fairy tales.
To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into the middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up (C.S. Lewis, On Three Ways of Writing for Children. Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories. Harvest Book, London, 1966, p. 25).
Happy Birthday, C.S. Lewis. And thank you for your writings, which continue to point this child to the One who became a Child for us that we might become children of God.
And here's a party favor, just in case you want to read more, a great blog post commemorating the occasion.