Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 14 – Aslan
Setting the Scene: Shasta is the first character we meet in ‘The Horse and His Boy’. He is a runaway slave from Calormen – the country to the south of Narnia. On his journey he is accompanied by Bree (a talking horse) who is also trying to escape to Narnia. Towards the end of the story he finally meets Aslan.
‘I do think,’ said Shasta, ‘that I must be the most unfortunate boy that ever lived in the whole world. Everything goes right for everyone except me. Those Narnian lords and ladies got safe away from Tashbaan; I was left behind. Aravis and Bree and Hwin are all as snug as anything with that old Hermit: of course I was the one who was sent on. King Lune and his people must have got safely into the castle and shut the gates long before Rabadash arrived, but I get left out.’
And being very tired and having nothing inside him, he felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks.
What put a stop to all this was a sudden fright. Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing. And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly hear any footfalls. What he could hear was breathing. His invisible companion seemed to breathe on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature. And he had come to notice this breathing so gradually that he had really no idea how long it had been there. It was a horrible shock.
…..’Who are you?’ he said, scarcely above a whisper.
‘One who has waited long for you to speak,’ said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.
‘Are you – are you a giant?’ asked Shasta.
‘You might call me a giant,’ said the Large Voice. ‘But I am not like the creatures you call giants.’
‘I can’t see you at all,’ said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then (for an even more terrible idea had come into his head) he said, almost in a scream, ‘You’re not – not something dead, are you? Oh please – please do go away. What harm have I ever done you? Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world!’
Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. ‘There,’ it said, ‘that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows.’
Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had had anything to eat.
‘I do not call you unfortunate,’ said the Large Voice.
‘Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?’ said Shasta.
‘There was only one lion,’ said the Voice.
‘What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and-’
‘There was only one: but he was swift of foot.’
‘How do you know?’
‘I was the lion.’ And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. ‘I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.’
..Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.
The mist was turning from black to grey and from grey to white. This must have begun to happen some time ago, but while he had been talking to the Thing he had not been noticing anything else. Now, the whiteness around him became a shining whiteness; his eyes began to blink. Somewhere ahead he could hear birds singing. He knew the night was over at last. He could see the mane and ears and head of his horse quite easily now. A golden light fell on them from the left. He thought it was the sun. He turned and saw, pacing beside him, taller than the horse, a Lion.
…..The High King above all kings stooped towards him. Its mane, and some strange and solemn perfume that hung about the mane, was all round him. It touched his forehead with its tongue. He lifted his face and their eyes met. Then instantly the pale brightness of the mist and the fiery brightness of the Lion rolled themselves together into a swirling glory and gathered themselves up and disappeared. He was alone with the horse on a grassy hillside under a blue sky. And there were birds singing.
The Horse and His Boy – Chapter 11 – The Unwelcome Fellow Traveller (© C.S. Lewis)
From where he sits Shasta is indeed ‘the most unfortunate boy that ever lived in the whole world’. Looking back on his life nothing seems to have gone right and, even as he is about to find freedom in Narnia, he is still in danger. In the middle of all this he meets one more even bigger obstacle to his happiness and safety. Having come through so much how typical, he might say to himself, that there is one more thing to go wrong.
How often our lives feel like his! Nothing ever goes according to our plan and the whole world seems to be against us. If we are not careful we can be so involved with whatever is going on within our own orbit that we forget to see the bigger picture. When we are in the middle of the mess of our lives instead of seeing God’s provision and grace, we only see lions (a whole pride!), ghosts, and unseen dangers.
The difference Christ makes in our lives is his intimate presence – at his nativity he was named, Emmanuel. He truly is, like Aslan, God with us. Watching over us from before our birth, guiding us through all the challenges of life, urging us on when we are in danger and comforting us in the darkness.
Why do I not tell him everything about my life? After all has not God been there since before the beginning and will be there when we join him (please God) in the life after life?
I do not know why it is I forget that God is with me in this intimate way every day of my life, every step of my day. I do not know why, even though God has proved his love for me again and again, I still imagine that God is a brooding dark presence instead of a comfort for the journey. I do not know why I insist on keeping things to myself and do not tell them to the One who loves me best. The one who is always at my side saying, ‘Tell me your sorrows.’
I do know that when I recover from my amnesia and allow God to touch my life and open my heart then the mist disappears, dawn breaks and birds sing.
Lord you are a present help in trouble,
In our darkness come as light
In our sadness come as joy
In our troubles come as peace
In our weakness come as strength
Come Lord to our aid
Open our eyes to your Presence
Open our minds to your grace
Open our lips to your praises
Open our hearts to your healing
And be found among us.
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Only one thing today – but it may take some time – tell God your sorrows.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018