Thawing Narnia: Invitations From God to Childhood’s Faith, Wonder, and Joy
Oblate School of Theology
Originally Published on the website of Oblate School of Theology
September 7 @ 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM Recurring Event (See all) $20.00
Wednesdays, Sep 7 – 28 | 9:30AM – 11:30AM Central Time | ONLINE AND IN-PERSON OPTIONS AVAILABLE
Become as a child (Matthew 18:3)
What people believe, how they understand and live their spirituality, is influenced above all by their childhood experiences. Therefore, reflection on spirituality is always also a search for traces [of those experiences], a reflection on our first profound experiences of the Holy…. (Steindl-Rast & Anselm-Grün)
This course explores what it can mean to experience childlike faith, wonder and joy in adulthood. For most of us childhood was a time when we knew faith, wonder and joy as magical and undeniable elements of our lives. Though we did not consciously know the phrase “all things are possible with God,” we had a sense of possibility that exceeded adult logic and reason. This course uses C.S.Lewis’ land of Narnia as a metaphor for where the vibrancy and warmth of childhood faith, wonder and joy endure, frozen in time somewhere beyond our ordinary life. In asking us to become as children, I believe God is inviting us to “thaw Narnia” and once again experience faith, wonder and joy with a child’s eyes and heart. It is an invitation that I have found carries four challenges.
The first challenge of God’s invitation is Receive Me, the theme of the first week. It is a challenge that turns our attention to our conception of God, the issuer of the invitation, as well as to the invitation itself, offered solely “for the sheer beauty of its expression, for the sheer wonder of it, for the consummate joy of it, for the happiness it brings [God] to feel its energy glowing inside of [us] and sent out from [us].” (Walsh, The God Code).
The second week focuses on the challenge: Trust Me. This challenge is a challenge to reflect on just how deeply we trust the incredibly unconditional reality into which God invites us. Class discussion will explore the loss as well as the reclaiming of childhood trust in what, as adults, we too often find “too good to be true” in the face of little or no evidence. Is it in fact possible to reclaim childhood’s faith, wonder and joy as adults?
The third challenge of God’s invitation—Join Me—is explored in the third week. Class content and discussion will explore what it means to express and share God’s Pure Unconditional Love as a child, playfully and vulnerably. Love’s desire is always to become one yet never to erase individual uniqueness.
The fourth week explores the challenge to Choose Life, which asks us to consider the intentional practice of joining with God. It holds implicit the question: “Will we “thaw” Narnia and return to our childhood faith, wonder and joy, now with full intention and no longer naïve?” Two scripture passages provide the context for this module. The first is from Deuteronomy (30:19): “I’ve set life and death before you today…choose life.” The second is from John (10:10): “I came that you may have life and have it abundantly.”
Course discussions and reflections are guided by the four invitations in relation to both participants’ and presenter’s experiences of faith, wonder and joy. Come prepared to explore the deep meaning and challenges of becoming as a child in adulthood.
All classes will take place on Wednesday mornings, 9:30 am to 11:30 am Central Time, ONLINE via Zoom Meeting and IN-PERSON on campus.
Portions of each class session will be recorded and made available to registered participants through February 16, 2022. Please note that periods of participants’ sharing in small and large group settings will not be recorded. In general, the following portions of each class session will be recorded: opening prayer and teaching period.
|Week 1||September 7, 2022||Receive Me|
|Week 2||September 14, 2022||Trust Me|
|Week 3||September 21, 2022||Join Me|
|Week 4||September 28, 2022||Choose Life|
Suggested (BUT NOT REQUIRED) Readings
These first two books provide my experiential context for arriving at the four invitations.
— Barrera, I. Unwrapping Beloved’s Gift, Co-Creating Soul’s Song. The prologue to this book (pages xiii-xviii) tells the story of my personal experience thawing Narnia.
— Barrera, I. Sustaining Heaven on Earth: Keys forged By and for Love. This book shares my thoughts about “choosing life” as I’ve come to understand it.
These books provided me with both inspiration and insight as I planned this course and strived to live out its invitations myself.
— Callahan, P. Once Upon a Wardrobe. This book inspired my use of Narnia as a metaphor. Part fiction, part non-fiction, it addresses childhood faith, wonder and joy delightfully while identifying their deep truth, which children so often see so much more clearly than adults. Great melding of childlike believing and adult realities.
— Haverkamp, H. Advent in Narnia. Features scripture passages and excerpts from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe designed for “guiding the reader to know God better while journeying through Narnia.”
— Owens, Roger L. Everyday Contemplative. This book served to shape the four invitations, each of which reflects the themes of two chapters.
— Roller, Julia A. (Ed). A Year with Aslan. Thoughtful daily reflections based on the Narnia books.
— Spitzer, T. God Is Here: Reimaging the Divine. The first week of the course invites participants to receive “me” (God). This book presents a variety of metaphors for exploring what images come to mind in response to that invitation. It is particularly helpful for reflecting on the nature of the issuer of the invitations in the course. To paraphrase a powerful statement relevant to the course: “The issue is not belief in God but experience of God.”
— Walsch, Neale D. The God Solution. Walsch presents one of the most powerful and concrete descriptions of God as unconditional love I’ve read anywhere. It also points out many of the misconceptions of God that, I believe, are responsible for “freezing Narnia” in the first place. We experience God as we conceive God to be.
— Zasowski, N. What If It’s Wonderful? Release Your Fears, Choose Joy, and Find the Courage to Celebrate. This book is particularly relevant to two challenges considered in this course: Trust Me and Choose Life. Its author invites us to release the fears that inhibit our ability to trust and to experience life as a celebration of “God’s promises and delights in what is possible.”
Isaura Barrera, Ph.D., MA (Spirituality), is a lifelong spiritual seeker. She retired after being a professor at the University of New Mexico for 20 years and returned to San Antonio. There she enrolled in and completed the Master’s of Spirituality program at Oblate School of Theology (OST). She has taught several courses for Continuing Education at OST and has published several books including Beloved’s Gift: Following Soul’s Song into Love, Hope and Faith; Unwrapping Beloved’s Gift, Co-Creating Soul’s Song: Way Stations on the Path to Awakening Deep Love, Hope and Faith; and Sustaining Heaven on Earth: Keys Forged By and For Love. She is currently working on her next book tentatively titled Thawing Narnia: Reawakening to the Miracle of God’s Incredible Reality. She is also developing a blog on her website: www.isaurabarreraauthor.com
Registration Fee: $20
Individuals can register to participate either online (via Zoom Meeting), or in-person (on the OST campus). Fee includes cost for entire 4-week series.
For those participating online: We will send you a Zoom link and login instructions via email approximately one week before the series begins.
For information or to register by phone, contact Associate Registrar, Victoria Rodriguez, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (210) 341-1366 EXT 240.