Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 18 – Meetings
Setting the Scene: During the Last Battle the Children and King Tirian set free some who were being sent to Calormen as slaves on the orders of Shift the Ape who has dressed up Puzzle the Donkey as Aslan. The dwarves, having obeyed the false ‘Aslan’s’ orders to hand themselves over to the Calormenes are a little lukewarm towards their rescuers…
‘Well struck, Eustace!’ cried Tirian, clapping him on the back. ‘Now, Dwarfs, you are free. Tomorrow I will lead you to free all Narnia. Three cheers for Aslan!’
But the result which followed was simply wretched. There was a feeble attempt from a few Dwarfs (about five) which died away all at once: from several others there were sulky growls. Many said nothing at all.
‘Don’t they understand?’ said Jill impatiently ‘What’s wrong with all you Dwarfs? Don’t you hear what the King says? It’s all over. The Ape isn’t going to rule Narnia any longer. Everyone can go back to ordinary life. You can have fun again. Aren’t you glad?’
After a pause of nearly a minute a not-very-nice-looking Dwarf with hair and beard as black as soot said: ‘And who might you be, Missie?’
‘I’m Jill,’ she said. ‘The same Jill who rescued King Rilian from the enchantment and this is Eustace who did it too – and we’ve come back from another world after hundreds of years. Aslan sent us.’
The Dwarfs all looked at one another with grins; sneering grins, not merry ones.
‘Well,’ said the Black Dwarf (whose name was Griffle), ‘I don’t know how all you chaps feel, but I feel I’ve heard as much about Aslan as I want to for the rest of my life.’
‘That’s right, that’s right,’ growled the other Dwarfs. ‘It’s all a plant, all a blooming plant.’
…..’ You must think we’re blooming soft in the head, that you must,’ said Griffle. ‘We’ve been taken in once and now you expect us to be taken in again the next minute. We’ve no more use for stories about Aslan, see! Look at him! An old moke with long ears!’
‘By heaven, you make me mad,’ said Tirian. ‘Which of us said that was Aslan? That is the Ape’s imitation of the real Aslan. Can’t you understand?’
‘And you’ve got a better imitation, I suppose!’ said Griffle. ‘No thanks. We’ve been fooled once and we’re not going to be fooled again.’
‘I have not,’ said Tirian angrily, ‘I serve the real Aslan.’
‘Where’s he? Who’s he? Show him to us!’ said several Dwarfs.
‘Do you think I keep him in my wallet, fools?’ said Tirian. ‘Who am I that I could make Aslan appear at my bidding? He’s not a tame lion.’
The moment those words were out of his mouth he realized that he had made a false move. The Dwarfs at once began repeating ‘not a tame lion, not a tame lion,’ in a jeering sing-song. ‘That’s what the other lot kept on telling us,’ said one.
‘Do you mean you don’t believe in the real Aslan?’ said Jill. ‘But I’ve seen him. And he has sent us two here out of a different world.’
‘Ah,’ said Griffle with a broad smile. ‘So you say. They’ve taught you your stuff all right. Saying your lessons, ain’t you?’
‘Churl,’ cried Tirian, ‘will you give a lady the lie to her very face?’
‘You keep a civil tongue in your head, Mister,’ replied the Dwarf. ‘I don’t think we want any more Kings – if you are Tirian, which you don’t look like him – no more than we want any Aslans. We’re going to look after ourselves from now on and touch our caps to nobody. See?’
‘That’s right,’ said the other Dwarfs. ‘We’re on our own now. No more Aslan, no more Kings, no more silly stories about other worlds. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.’ And they began to fall into their places and to get ready for marching back to wherever they had come from.
‘Little beasts!’ said Eustace. ‘Aren’t you even going to say thank you for being saved from the salt-mines?’
‘Oh, we know all about that,’ said Griffle over his shoulder. ‘You wanted to make use of us, that’s why you rescued us. You’re playing some game of your own. Come on you chaps.’
The Last Battle – Chapter 7 – Mainly About Dwarfs (© C.S. Lewis)
A long story today but one which, as it unfolds, is very much of this age. Dwarfs are post-modernists (not all, a few like Poggle, will make it into Aslan’s country) and having had their faith shattered by the selfishness of the Ape refuse to believe in anyone except themselves from now on. Their creed has become ‘The Dwarfs for the Dwarfs!’
Do you have friends and acquaintances like these dwarfs? I know I have. Not simply ‘glass half-empty’ people like Puddleglum but people who will not look into the glass at all as they are absolutely convinced it is completely empty! Later on in the story Lucy asks Aslan if anything can be done for the dwarfs who, in the free air of Aslan’s land, can only see a dirty stable. In answer Aslan lets out a mighty roar and instead of hearing his voice the dwarfs only hear a noise which they think is put there to try and frighten them.
What are we to do for them? These are the precious people who perhaps once worshipped regularly; perhaps they were a child chorister, or come from a devout family, or had a glorious conversion experience at something like an Alpha Course. But then their trust was betrayed and their faith demolished by a tragedy of life or by (far too often) the actions of a fellow Christian. These precious children of God are now so deaf to the Gospel that even if God were to roar at them they would be unable to hear.
How can this trust ever be rebuilt? It is not easy; it may require something as profound as the selfless act of sacrifice which founded our faith. Rebuilding trust in the Church means Christians must prove themselves to be trustworthy. It means much turning of cheeks, walking of extra miles and handing over of cloaks as well as coats. And having done that, then doing it again and again… and then praying for God’s grace to work .
It may not be our personal fault that someone has stopped believing because they have had a trust betrayed but it is the responsibility of the whole church to bring healing and restoration to everyone – even deaf dwarfs.
When I want to run – hold me.
When I want to turn away – turn me round.
When I want to hide – race me to my hiding place and win.
When I want to hurt others – deflect my aim.
When I want to hurt myself – love me.
When I cry – grab me quickly
And rock me safely
In your strong arms
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Make a list of the ‘deaf dwarfs’ of your acquaintance, pray for them regularly and, if you can, decide to do something for them which will demonstrate that Christians and the Gospel are trustworthy.
How does your fellowship care for ‘lapsed members’? Investigate programmes such as ‘The Season of Invitation’ and see if they might be a good way of restoring trust. (http://seasonofinvitation.co.uk)
Apologise to someone whom you have let down or whose trust you have betrayed and then go on to forgive someone who has done the same to you.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018