A is for Aravis
During my first summer camp experience, between 5th and 6th grade, my counselor read to us from The Horse and His Boy, one of the Chronicles of Narnia, at night before we went to sleep. From talking with some of the other kids, I determined that most of the other counselors were reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to their cabins. I felt special. My counselor was different and creative.
As I got older, Lewis and his Chronicles were always close companions of mine. The images in those books follow me through my life, especially during the winter months in Spokane, where I want nothing more than Christmas and a cup of tea with Mr. Tumnus.
I’ve always wanted to be a little bit different, a little bit special, and so when people ask me what my favorite Chronicle is, I always tell them The Horse and His Boy. It’s taken me a long time to articulate why this is, since this is one of the most troubling entries in the series to modern readers. Now, I think it’s because of Aravis.
Aravis is the heroine of the tale, a member of the Calormene royal family. Her story captivated me, far more than that of the male main character, Shasta. I loved the bold way that she had set out against an arranged marriage, and the bravery and cunning she displayed throughout the book. It’s hard to put a finger on what makes a character jump off a page and make eye contact with the reader, but that’s what Aravis did.
Aravis is also a French mountain range. I’ve always wondered what made Lewis choose this name in particular. One thing is certain, it hasn’t caught on.
When I’ve dated people and we’ve discussed baby names, I always bring up Aravis. I love the idea of having a daughter with an unusual name, and one with meaning behind it. It sounds beautiful when I say it out loud. I’ve never dated anyone who has been willing to consider it as an option (and my mother isn’t too fond of it either).
Whether I ever name anyone Aravis or not, she follows me around, as entrancing as she was at summer camp in that cabin, long-ago, voiced by my counselor. She reminds me to be brave, to be ready to learn, and to listen.
This post is the first installment of a new series I'm beginning, one for each letter of the alphabet. These posts will be in order, about whatever strikes my fancy, posted each Monday.
Last week, I participated in Abby Norman's lovely series Modern Day Parables. If you'd like to read my contribution: The Kingdom of God is Like a Long-Awaited Baby, I'd be honored.