Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Reepicheep as a role model for the new year

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published January 21, 2016

“I love real mice,” C.S. Lewis wrote to a child, “There are lots in my rooms in College, but I have never set a trap.”

He added, “When I sit up late working they poke their heads out from behind the curtains just as if they were saying, ‘Hi! Time for you to go to bed. We want to come out and play.’”2016 01 21 GB MURRAY Reepicheep as a role model for the new year

The year was 1953, and the girl was only 11 when she wrote to Lewis about her love for his Narnia books. She included her own painting of characters in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” among which was the indomitable mouse, Reepicheep, whose image, wrote Lewis, “has just the right cheeky, perky expression.”

I definitely can relate to Lewis’ sentiments about mice, although I prefer seeing them outdoors rather than, say, scampering about in my kitchen. Still, I’ve always been a fan of gerbils, hamsters and chipmunks, so now that I am re-reading “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” it’s probably no surprise that my favorite character is the talking mouse.

My husband loved the Narnia tales, which he had read as a child, and then illustrated as an adult. Our downstairs walls are adorned with his oil paintings depicting Lucy, Edmund, Tumnus and Reepicheep—and his sketchbook is filled with pencil illustrations.

In the books, Reepicheep is a courageous creature who unflinchingly challenges much larger adversaries to duels. But more importantly perhaps, the mouse’s heartfelt dreams are distinctly Christian, since they don’t concern riches or fame—but rather arriving safely in Aslan’s country.

Early in January, I was pondering what direction my life should take. As a recently widowed woman, starting a fresh year has been unusually challenging because I have no inkling where the road ahead will lead without my husband.

But, really, am I so different from anyone else? Obviously, we can weave all the dreams we want, but they can still unravel in an instant. Then we can either bitterly dwell on our misfortune—or strive for a deeper goal that doesn’t depend on the vicissitudes of fate.

The dawn of a new year may tempt us to make resolutions about running marathons, losing weight or bumping up our salaries. But an unexpected illness, an injury or an economic downturn can quickly deflate these dreams.

Setting our sights primarily on heaven, as Reepicheep does, doesn’t mean we can’t savor the ordinary joys of everyday life—a stirring sunset, a sumptuous feast, a sweetheart’s embrace.

But keeping our hearts fixed on the eternal means allotting time to spiritual reading, prayer and Mass. Putting heaven first means staying the course when tragedy strikes—and ignoring the dark voices in our head urging us to give up.

With these thoughts in mind, I nominate that determined mouse Reepicheep as a role model for the new year. His single-minded purpose shines forth when he announces that he will set sail in the big boat—and when it fails him, he’ll continue in his rowboat.

And when that sinks? “Then I shall swim east with my four paws.”

The mouse’s predictions come true when the Dawntreader runs aground, and, undaunted, he goes on alone in his small vessel.

“Then it vanished, and since that moment no one can truly claim to have seen Reepicheep the Mouse,” wrote Lewis. “But my belief is that he came safe to Aslan’s country and is alive there to this day.”

My prayer, dear readers, is that we’ll keep our sights set on life’s true goal, which is one day arriving in Aslan’s country. And even if all our earthly plans are shipwrecked, and our worldly wishes run aground, may we follow in the footsteps of that courageous mouse—and never, ever, give up.

Illustration by Jef Murray. Lorraine’s email address is