By Jody Matheson
Like many of our readers, C.S. Lewis Narnia chronicles have a special place in our hearts. I think this is because we know who Lewis was, and what he stood for, and we knew that he wasnt going to lead us astray with his timeless tales of fantasy set amidst the morals of good and evil. Having said that, I must admit that Ive never really understood the fantasy world of Narnia.
Maybe that is what made Starr Meades tale, Keeping Holiday, so meaningful to me. While the Narnia books deal with temptations and doing right layered in a fantasy motif, Keeping Holiday deals with the issue of getting into heaven through very real world examples.
This gospel story is shaped through young Dylan who is about to discover that the town of Holiday hes come to know, the place his family and their friends have always visited, is just the start of a much greater place. While no one wants to hear about Dylans vision of the greater Holiday, his cousin Clare is willing to join the trip to discovery.
I accept upfront that this book is written as a fantasy. It all starts rather harmlessly, gently introducing us to talking trees, talking mistletoe, talking penguins, bells and more. Each character moves the story along, giving us a greater sense of what may be the Founders purpose for creating a place like Holiday, its rich history and its glorious future. The question always looms, what does it take to get authorized to visit?
The book moves along at a good pace. I often found myself excited to start the next chapter. I did find it a challenge to decipher parts of the book for the children I was sharing it with, trying to get a better grasp of the hidden message in this story. Not to say that the gospel ideals are buried deep, but with some parts of the story seeming very real, and others rather fantastic, going from one part to another took some mental gymnastics. Maybe it was because I was reading it as a bedtime story?
The greatest challenge of this book, however, was the challenge I took away from it. Meade does a terrific job of illustrating the temptations that so many Christians face, those who believe and those who are searching. Its not until these challenges passed that I found myself considering my own life experiences, often finding correlations that are exposed under the lights of the Founders first time visitors pass. Upon further reflection, I had to wonder what parts of this book mirrored my own walk along that narrow path to Holiday/Heaven.
This book is a beautiful reminder of what more we can do in our own lives, wrapped in a pleasant childrens story of one childs search for the Founder. I am left with the words of Dylans father, responding to his sons call to Holiday, This may be the most important trip youll ever make Keep your eyes and ears open, and pay close attention to everything. Youll never do anything as important as getting authorized to keep holiday. (pg.30)
And I would challenge you to read this book, and find out if you have what it takes to get authorized as well.
About the author: Starr Meade served for 10 years as the director of childrens ministries in a local church and taught Latin and Bible for eight years in a Christian school. A graduate of Arizona College of the Bible and author of Training Hearts, Teaching Minds , Meade currently teaches home school students.
Jody wonders how far along the path to Holiday he would have made it. A father of two from Canada, Jody works as a producer and on-air video host for a local newspaper website, eh.