I like to believe everyone has a “Narnia.” It’s been described to me as the place you never want to leave. The moment you want to hold onto. The friends you never want to say goodbye to. For me, it’s the place away from home where I’ve experienced the Lord or that has helped to form me in some way. Mine is my college town and the neighboring city.
April 30th, 2021. The night before commencement. I watched my professors congratulate my class on Zoom, drove to a park to walk with my friends, and met up with others at a bonfire. I talked with a missionary about the future, laughed more with our friend who is a priest after our walk, and realized once again how hard it was going to be to leave this place, these people.
I’m going to miss this place. Early morning drives to daily Mass and gasping at every sunrise. Gazing at the beauty in a church and realizing all the love the Lord freely gives, so much that it’s overwhelming and comforting at the same time. Recognizing the beauty and gratitude felt during intentional conversations with friends I care for and who care for me. Resting in community in my friends’ apartments, whether we were making dinner, laughing, or just catching up. Walks in the park. Runs around campus. Late nights with my roommates and friends after club meetings. Moments where I feel like I’ve never laughed harder. Moments when I feel safe enough to cry about all the good and hard things.
I think a lot of college was simply being with people. We all lived a couple blocks or a short drive away from each other, making everyone a neighbor. My friends became my second family. I hope you find people like this in your life. More importantly, I hope you praise God when you recognize the goodness He’s put in your path. We were made for relationship.
I know I’ll be able to do all these things again. We can still text and find a time to meet for dinner. We can still call and see what each other is up to. I’ll drive for hours just to see them smile in person. No one said distance or time was impossible. I hope someday we can all be neighbors again.
As commencement drew closer, I kept telling myself that we have to leave Narnia. It was only when Lucy left Narnia that she was able to share the beauty, joy, and wonder with her siblings and bring them to Aslan (who portrays Christ).
May 1, 2021. I lay with my eyes closed. Perhaps if I stayed like this long enough, commencement wouldn’t really happen. I could stay in those moments of last night with my friends. I was still standing in the wardrobe, Narnia behind me and the real world beyond the door. If I held still between the coats, perhaps I could still live in Narnia.
But the Lord calls us to mission, to spread the gospel, to bear fruit that will last. To jump out of the wardrobe like Lucy because we can’t hold the truth, beauty, and goodness of Jesus to ourselves.
Even though we need to grow and have new beginnings, the past doesn’t disappear. It’s part of us. We’ll look over our shoulder months from now and realize that those people helped to shape us for the future. We’ll remain thankful that they walked alongside us so closely in that season of life.
All I can say now is thank you. Sure, we can’t stay in Narnia forever. But Christ taught me more about love through these people and experiences. All I can say is thank you, I love you, and take one courageous step toward the next adventure, never forgetting the love I was given here.