Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 10 – Call
Setting the Scene: Finally Jill sets out for Narnia to answer the call of Aslan and begin her task.
‘Please, how am I to get to Narnia?’
‘On my breath,’ said the Lion. ‘I will blow you into the west of the world as I blew Eustace.’
‘Shall I catch him in time to tell him the first sign? But I suppose it won’t matter. If he sees an old friend, he’s sure to go and speak to him, isn’t he?’
‘You will have no time to spare,’ said the Lion. ‘That is why I must send you at once. Come. Walk before me to the edge of the cliff.’
…..long before she had got anywhere near the edge, the voice behind her said, ‘Stand still. In a moment I will blow. But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters. And now, daughter of Eve, farewell -’
The voice had been growing softer towards the end of this speech and now it faded awayaltogether. Jill looked behind her. To her astonishment she saw the cliff already more than a hundred yards behind her, and the Lion himself a speck of bright gold on the edge of it. She had been setting her teeth and clenching her fists for a terrible blast of lion’s breath; but the breath had really been so gentle that she had not even noticed the moment at which she left the earth. And now, there was nothing but air for thousands upon thousands of feet below her.
The Silver Chair – Chapter 2 – Jill is Given a Task (© C.S. Lewis)
Finally Jill is on her way and, the call can be answered and the task begun. I wonder if Lewis had the words of Hildegard of Bingen, a ‘feather on the breath of God’, in mind when he decided to have first Eustace and then Jill travel to Narnia on the breath of Aslan.
Would that following the call and completing the task was as simple as that! If it were then I would never go in the wrong direction and always end up in exactly the right place. Occasionally there are moments which are almost overfilled with God’s grace and, to use a phrase from the world of sport, we find ourselves ‘in the zone’ and everything we touch turns toward God. But those moments – moments in Aslan’s own country – as are true mountaintop times. Like the disciples after the Transfiguration, we must leave the mountain and go down to the valley and join the rest of the world.
Jill learns some important lessons from Aslan as she goes on her way which may help us in our own journey.
The journey begins from the edge of the cliff. It should not be surprising that the place we begin our new journey is where we left the old one. Aslan leads Jill to the place of her last failure (the cliff-edge over which Eustace fell) and makes her begin again from there. The first step to success starts from where we faltered. The road to faithfulness begins at the site of our sinfulness. This is the way of salvation. Do not be afraid to face past failings, they are the buds of a new dawn.
The air in Narnia is ‘thick’ and we cannot hear Aslan speak clearly there. When we are about God’s business in the world there are far too many other voices. ‘Noise’ is the word radio technicians use to describe the static interference from other voices that try to grab our attention on the airwaves. That is how life is. To come to the end of our task we need to be careful to tune in and continue to listen carefully. Vocation is not a once in a lifetime epiphany – though it may feel like that – but a daily following of the voice of the One who loves us best.
Remember, remember, and remember the signs. Whether our devotional life follows a set liturgical form or times of quiet reflection and Bible Study it is best to have a pattern. Because God’s voice is hard to hear we need to commit ourselves to daily times of remembering. The old saying ‘Seven days without prayer makes one weak’ is all too true. Some days it is a struggle to get out the prayer books and the Bible, the study notes and the journal, but we must. Else we will lose our way.
Finally, the breath of God is gentle. If you do find yourself being bowled over by the world and caught up in the rush of life wondering if you are on the right path remember that our God is a gentle God. Any pushing, any anxiety, any threat we may feel in our work does not come from God. For me, when I feel pushed I have to own that I am often the one who is doing the pushing. Sometimes it is others who are doing the pushing and the demanding. But it is never God. In the middle of all the pressure remember the breath of God carries us gently.
and you held me and there were no words
and there was no time and you held me
and there was only wanting and
being held and being filled with wanting
and I was nothing but letting go
and being held
and there were no words and there
needed to be no words
and there was no terror only stillness
and I was wanting nothing and
it was fullness and it was like aching for God
and it was touch and warmth and
darkness and no time and no words and we flowed
and I flowed and I was not empty
and I was given up to the dark and
in the darkness I was not lost
and the wanting was like the fullness and I could
hardly hold it and I was held and
you were dark and warm and without time and
without words and you held me.
In ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Find an object which you can hold easily in your hand – a cross, a pebble, an important book, a rosary – and spend some time in quiet prayer feeling it in your hands. Use this time to pray Janet Morley’s prayer above. As you pray imagine how God holds you in God’s hands.
Visit a past ‘failure’ and, if you have not already, make reparation. Then step away from it into new life.
Examine your pattern of prayer and Bible reading – how can you ensure it is regular?
© Andrew Dotchin 2018