Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Roar Behind

It's no secret I quite enjoy the writing of CS Lewis. I enjoy their rhythm, I'm awed by their depth, and I'm intrigued by their implications. As I reread through the Narnia series I am continually in a state of admiration for how he takes some very complex theological ideas and distills them into finger-food anyone can comprehend.

I often laugh with my friends about how I pray for things and I'm begrudged when God happily answers my cry. Usually this is because I foolishly, but not really at all, ask Him to tear me apart and rebuild me in His image. To strip me of my pride, to teach me a lesson I know I need to learn, or to put me over the coals and hammer me into a tempered sword for His use. Foolish prayers, because I know that without a doubt these are prayers that will be answered.

Deep down they truly reflect my hearts wish. I want to be useful, I want to be pure; I only struggle with the process from which he culls those impurities. They are hard, they hurt, and they leave scars marring every inch of my body, mind and soul. In hindsight, however, I can't think of a single one that I would trade in, because each of them have been entirely worth it.

Shasta, Bree, Hwin and Aravis are moving through the desert North towards Archenland and eventually Narnia. They have been travelling for days, and are hot, tired, and thirsty. But they know they have to press on nonetheless, in order to beat out an attacking group and warn the Archenlanders. And in that final stretch, when the danger is most immanent, a lion chases them down.

I'm sure you can imagine what comes next. More importantly, I be you can empathize with that feeling, I know I can. You are tired ans sore from the journey. You feel as though you have nothing left inside, and God asks you for just a little more. In this case, it's the threat of danger and death that is used as a motivation. But the Jesus we have constructed in our heads holds children, hugs lambs and always smiles. Imagine the fear it would inspire in you if he growled at you and threatened your life.

God is not tame. He doesn't fit nicely into our pretty boxes, our leather Bibles, or our consecrated churches. He is not a tame line. His leaping for Aravis at ripping her back open, drawing blood is entirely in His character. But His intention is never to kill, merely to inspire and teach. Had He wanted to kill, the mere thought of it would turn it into reality.

I have claw marks. They sting from time to time, but I have learned to welcome them as a comforting reminder that the Lion watches over me, and deems my journey important enough to spur me forward in the times of my greatest danger. I'm fearful to think what would have been had I not received that nudge.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


"But when he had said "Yes," he thought of his Mother, and he thought of the great hopes he had had, and how they were all dying away, and a lump came in his throat and tears in his eyes, and he blurted out:

"But please, please -- won't you -- can't ou give me something that will cure Mother?" Up till then he had been looking at the Lion's great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonders of wonders) great shining tears stood in the lion's eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared to Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.

"My son, my son," said Aslan. "I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another. But I have to think of hundreds of years in the life of Narnia."

-From The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

How our perceptions change. What once was so bright and clear becomes foggy. The monster that once plagued our closets is now our best friend. The lion that threatened to devour us in it's majestic power is now the only source of empathy we find in this lonely place.

I just finishes reading through this book (thanks Felicia) again, and I come at it with new eyes. Eyes that are less innocent than the last read through, and a heart that bares more weight than it once did. Where I was a child, I am now a boy. Where I once saw plot, I now see life. It speaks no longer to my fictional mindset, and my imagination, but directly to my life experiences. This is no longer just a story about beginnings, it's a story about me.

The questions of 'what if?' Temptations. Lust for power. The wrecklessness of hope, lashing out in it's ignorance. Very deep topics for a children's book. Yet as I reflect upon my few short years, I identify all to well with these things. 'Was it my fault? Where were You? How come it couldn't be me? Why won't you help?' I struggled, I wrestled, and I fought these questions to the bitter end. And now... as I read about the tears of the Lion, I understand.

Where I once saw God as an aloof observer, who I could bend to my will, I now I see a gentle (yet ever so powerful) ruler, who empathizes with me. In my innocense, and my ignorance, I thought that no one could understand. But who better to understand than the one who created me? Am I so selfish as to think that He has never lost anything? That He would not understand my pain? No... that would be foolish of me, for every ache that I feel in my heart, He feels tenfold. For every loss that stings humanity, a stake is drive through. In our pain, we are drawn closer to our creator, because we understand the empathy that is involved.

Some are driven further, seduced by the promises of power through anger. They seek to harness their pain to whip their souls and hearts into greater heights. But in their bloodlust, they lose something so precious that the consequences are not small. They lose empathy.

"Yes, Aslan. She wanted me to take an apple home to Mother."

"Understand, then, that it would have healed her; but not to your joy or hers. The day would have come when both you and she would have looked back and said it would have been better to die in that illness."

And Digory could say nothing, for tears choked him and he gave up all hopes of saving his Mother's life; but at the same time he knew that the Lion knew what would have happened, and that there might be things more terrible even than losing someone you love by death. But now Aslan was speaking again, almost in a whisper:

"That is what
would have happened, child, with a stolen apple. It is not what will happen now. What I give you now will bring joy."

We are not always given a choice as to our path. But in our humility, we are brought to the absolute knowledge that our path is what is best. And I am brought closer yet again.

Monday, July 07, 2008


What a precarious position we find ourselves in. A slick precipice on either side, the thick rain pouring in waves upon you, with only the flashes of the distant lightning to guide your feet. It seemed like only yesterday that I was skipping freely among the daisies and gliding my hands over the tall grass with a smile in my heart, and a laugh in my throat.

I am jealous of my memories. I covet their innocence and their free spirit. Not a care in the world, not even of where I would sleep that night. Surely the birds that listlessly careened around me would lead me to a sanctuary where I could lay my head.

Now my head lays in my calloused hands. Tears streak down my grimy face. A shudder crawls it's way maliciously up my body as the cold seeps in. My legs mock me in their cramped state, as if they know what the future will hold.

There was a time when I would call that carefree person foolish. How could you act so free with the midnight clouds billowing over the horizon, snaking their way towards you. Surely you could not be dumb enough to not anticipate the battles that lie in wait for you, the traps that nip at your ankles wanting to drag you into their subterranean lair. This is a fight for your life, and hardly a time to enjoy the gentle breeze before it grows into a gale.

Then it pierced me like an arrow. Who is the fool? The one who spends the day occupied with where his food is going to be found or whether he will be safe when he lays his head down? Or the one who lets those things worry about themselves and keeps his eyes up. How often do you find those with their heads in the clouds suffocating beneath your feet?

I am the fool. The deep chasms on either side are nothing but landscapes created out of the schisms in my own mind. I'm in the meadow. The scent of the flowers seems so distant in my nostrils, yet their proximity seems to comfort me. The rain soaks me to the bone, but I hear the sonnet of the birds dancing about me and the warmth begins to kindle inside, roaring to life. My legs are atrophied not from the journey, but from sitting. I have forgotten how to use them. The days when I would dance and leap to be one step closer faded away when I allowed my foot to be still, and my ankle entangled.

A glimpse. A ray of light through my clouds. Irradiating me with the truth that has been so absent. "Your sins are forgiven. Get up, take your mat and go home."

I am in the meadow once more.

It is a fragile state of mind we exist in. Draw not your strength from your own wells, for they run dry. Drink of the Living Water, and you will never thirst again. Put your heads firmly in the clouds and pray that it is never yanked to earth.

In my innocence, I wish to be enlightened. In my 'enlightenment' I wish to be innocent. What a foolish man I am.