Considering the avid reader I was during my childhood and adolescence, it still surprises me that I never read The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. It wasn’t until the theatrical release of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 2005 that I finally took my first trip to Aslan’s country.
I remember feeling intrigued that one of the protagonists shared my name, and I was ready to discover a kinship with this literary character—“Queen Susan, the Gentle, daughter of Eve.”
As I watched the story unfold, I certainly felt a connection to her—her logic, caution, and solemnity. However, instead of feeling my spirit enlivened, I felt a certain sense of sadness. Early on in the story, in a time of great personal and familial turmoil, her mother tells her, “Be a big girl.” Tears of recognition welled in my eyes as I watched this scene, for I identified with the demand to contain emotions, be responsible, and take care.
In the darkened theater I felt joined by a brown-haired, doe-eyed girl who was suspicious of the shadows and the danger lurking there. The one who learned to assuage her loneliness by getting lost in the pages of a book or by hiding just out of sight. The one who knew that it served her best to quiet her voice, stifle her emotions, and “be a big girl.”
I longed to put my arms around her in a welcoming, comforting embrace.
In contrast, as I watched Susan’s younger sister, Lucy—known as Queen Lucy the Valiant—I felt captivated by her childish innocence, avid curiosity, wide-eyed wonder, and tender heart. From the kindness with which she engaged Mr. Tumnus to the devotion she showed Aslan to her emerging bravery on the battlefield, Lucy engaged her circumstances with unrelenting hope. Lucy quickly became a beloved heroine, and watching her stirred embers of the young girl within.
I remembered a whimsical girl who liked to play make believe with her neighborhood friends from dawn to dusk. The one who noticed the magical beauty of the weeping willow or far-stretching pastures in the backyard. The one drawn to the spiritual with a keen sense of knowing and a deep heart of faith. As I held these sparks of memories, I felt her presence emerging as if she was stepping from the shadow of the wardrobe into the wintery light.
I turned my face to each of these maidens and recognized that I held them within me still, as I always would. How did I feel toward each of them? I realized that my responses to Susan and Lucy were revelatory, ranging from admiration to aversion, from enchantment to envy, and I needed to be curious about these responses long after the movie ended.
Now, years later, I’m still curious, still learning to welcome these maidens and to hold both of them with gratitude and awe. As I do, I am more able to see, to know, and to name, that yes, I truly am a queen and a daughter of Eve.
Susan Tucker is a lifelong lover of story, and with curiosity and openness, she often explores in her writing the tension that life holds. A former English teacher, Susan loves meaningful use of language, especially when used to stir the soul and whet one’s appetite for more truth, goodness, and beauty. Compelled by a burgeoning interest in trauma recovery, she pursued training at The Allender Center, completing the Certificate in Narrative Focused Trauma Care, Level I and Level 2. Susan and Tim, her husband of 27 years, are the parents of two sons, now young adults, and adjusting to their newly empty nest.nbsp