The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.”
Whenever I think of “truth illumined by literature,” it draws me back to childhood, to the wonder and delight to be found within the pages of a book, the awareness that you are not alone, that someone else in the world has seen the truth, too.
CS Lewis begins with the idea of orphaned children in a war, a metaphor for the truth and reality of our lives perhaps, us as bits of the world’s collateral damage seeking refuge in the countryside. They fall into the back of a wardrobe one day, into another kingdom, another place in time, but real, perhaps more real than the wardrobe itself.
It is hard to explain how fiction can speak to you in a language only you can understand, profound ideas and truths felt and processed more by the heart than by the brain. Narnia was like that for me, a land of talking beavers and eternal winter that made far more sense than the one we live in now. Aslan, our lion, so beautifully crafted, woven around such sophisticated theology, but known and recognized immediately.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Aslan can be known but never known fully, never tamed and domesticated, so he fits into a box in which we are more comfortable. He eludes our efforts to make him smaller and safer or bigger and meaner. Aslan is Aslan, and he simply tears down what we think we know as fast as we erect it. Aslan will reveal himself as he chooses and not as we chose.
“He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”
Aslan is much like another Lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and people will often try to define Him too, to make Him bigger or smaller, safer or meaner, contained and tamed. There are so many of us who have leaned into CS Lewis’s Aslan character, who have clung to him fiercely in hard times, who have refused to be deceived by cheap substitutes and poorly drawn imitations. You are not my Aslan. That is not what my Aslan said.
Aslan is not our Lord and Savior, but Aslan is our Lord and Savior felt in the heart of a man who knew him so well, who lovingly recreated him for a Goddaughter, and gave so many of us a priceless gift in the process; a way to understand who God is and what it all means and why we are here.
We are like a secret club, us Narnia survivors, grown up girls now who still believe in fairy tales, who return to those lessons when we need wisdom and discernment. We bump into one another now and then and wave, linked together by our fierce love for the One who inspired the character of Aslan. He is a real Lion who lives in our hearts and imagination; One who has survived the test of time, reason, and adulthood. He is the Lion we have learned to sense and to feel, to anticipate with wonder and delight eagerly.
“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again” -CS Lewis
John 1: 1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Gabrielle Guthrie blogs about faith,culture, politics, and humor with an emphasis on biology because biology is all about life and life abundant. Her popular blog my be found here https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com
“So you see, there’s this thing called biology….”