Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 13 – Aslan
Setting the Scene: Digory, in an earlier adventure with Polly, had awoken Jadis of Charn (who is to become the White Witch in ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’) and this has meant she is now in Narnia. To put things right he is given a task by Aslan.
‘Son of Adam,’ said Aslan. ‘Are you ready to undo the wrong that you have done to my sweet country of Narnia on the very day of its birth?’
‘Well, I don’t see what I can do,’ said Digory. ‘You see, the Queen ran away and -’
‘I asked, are you ready?’ said the Lion.
‘Yes,’ said Digory. He had had for a second some wild idea of saying ‘I’ll try to help you if you’ll promise to help my Mother,’ but he realized in time that the Lion was not at all the sort of person one could try to make bargains with. 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 you 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 (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.
The Magician’s Nephew – Chapter 12 – Strawberry’s Adventure (© C.S. Lewis)
In one of the Lent Study Groups in our Parish we are using the book ‘Exploring God’s Mercy’ by Steven Croft. It is an interesting Lent course as it suggests many different ways of using it. We are telling stories from it over a soup and bread lunch and enjoying the discussion which follows. At the heart of the course is Psalm 107 which is used as an example of the mercy of God in many different dangers. Some of these dangers are accidental, some caused by others, some are the result of human sin. All of them end with salvation and the phrase ‘Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind’.
Digory discovers the deep loving merciful nature of Aslan very quickly. A few sentences ago he could not look Aslan in the face and had no idea if the lion might be able to help his mother. Now he finds himself able to admit to his wrongs, say ‘yes’ to a task whose nature he does not know, and extinguish all the hopes he had for his mother’s health, well almost…..
As Digory looks Aslan full in the face, for the first time despair turns to surprise as he realises that this One, who has the power to ‘sing’ Narnia to birth; this One, who has the insight to see all that Digory has done; this One, who has a plan to restore all that has gone wrong; this One can cry. And when this One cries his tears are greater even than Digory’s own sorrow.
This is so counter-intuitive for those who wield power in the world. When power is exercised the first casualty is compassion. When I exercise my personal power I find it very difficult to do so without being less caring than I should be and find myself breaking eggs for the sake of omelettes – this is how I justify my inhumanity to others. It is very difficult to be powerful and sorrowful at the same time. This is a different kind of power, this is a power that does not grab but instead gives, a power that transforms relationships and brings healing. This is a power that empties itself (Philippians 2.5-11).
This is the power of our God. This is a God who is powerful yet compassionate. A power that turns the world upside down; represented by the paradox Jurgen Moltmann describes as ‘The Crucified God’. This power is explained in Scripture by that wonderful Hebrew word ‘hesed’ translated in so many ways but perhaps ‘mercy’ is the word Digory thought of in his surprise at Aslan’s tears. Our God is a merciful God, our God is a weeping God, our God is a God who loves us despite our wrongs and wants to bring healing to every part of our lives.
I meet in you the mystery of life
the sudden silences
intensity of presence that makes me stop
catch my breath
lift up head high to catch the glory of your moment
and then bow low
lost in the misery of my meagre self
so far from you
you are of a grandeur and glory I long after and shrink from
Have mercy! In your glory let your pity touch me.
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Read Psalm 107
Look into the eyes of God and tell God of the things which bring you to tears
Exercise mercy today – give someone a ‘second chance’.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018