On the eve of the last of four celebrations we are hosting that mark the life and death of C.S. Lewis, we at the C.S. Lewis Foundation find ourselves shocked and profoundly saddened at the news of another death that has come to us too soon.
Others have written well of the life and impact of Dr. Christopher Mitchell, the former director of the Marion E. Wade Center. We feel his loss particularly due to his wonderful time leading two Summer Seminars in Residence at the Kilns in 2008 and 2011. Those who had the pleasure of hearing Chris’s enthusiastic and informative talks will remember many of those moments for a lifetime; we certainly cherished hope of working together again in the years to come.
A personal memorial note from Andrew Lazo:
I personally got to know Chris during several research trips to the Wade Center and will miss him sorely. He breadth and depth of knowledge not only of the Wade’s seven authors, but also of historical theology always dazzled me. But even more, his kindness toward me and his warm hospitality both at the Wade and in the beautiful home he made with Julie and his children I count as golden moments. My greatest memories are of much excited talk, not only of the Inklings, but also of his favorite musicians such as Béla Fleck and Phil Keaggy.
It blessed me to take Chris to his first concert with Phil, the man who started me on Lewis, and to introduce these two kind men to each other. For me, each encounter with Chris was filled with life, passion, learning, and was always marked by his incredible energy and that constant, joyful twinkle in his eyes.
C. S. Lewis said that when he became a man, one of the childish things he put away was the desire to be grown up and the fear of appearing childlike. Chris Mitchell certainly embodied this principle as well; with an almost boyish enthusiasm fueling his depths of study and wisdom, Chris eagerly looked forward to what lay before him, and generously shared all he was learning and each exciting plan that lay before him.
But for all this, Chris delighted most in being a dad, and in loving Julie through the years. Once when I was visiting the Wade, Chris came to ask a favor. He had a previous commitment; would I mind taking Walter Hooper to dinner? Of course I accepted, and I’ll cherish that meal for the rest of my life. Chris’s commitment? Attending his son’s soccer game. His commitment to the childlike remains for me a permanent and inspirational memory.
Not only did Chris continue to change in order to become like a child, he also continued to change lives of those he met, with a generous and bright joy that will continue to form his legacy. Losing him leaves this world darker, even as his legacy serves to light our way.
Because of Chris Mitchell, so many of us too seek to follow Christ more deeply, as Chris followed Him, and to shine like the stars of the heavens.