Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 22 – Meetings
Setting the Scene: Not all Calormenes are worshippers of the vulture headed Tash – or so it seems. At the end of the Last Battle a young Calormen soldier somehow finds himself in Alsan’s country.
‘So I went over much grass and many flowers and among all kinds of wholesome and delectable trees till lo! in a narrow place between two rocks there came to meet me a great Lion. The speed of him was like the ostrich, and his size was an elephant’s; his hair was like pure gold and the brightness of his eyes like gold that is liquid in the furnace. He was more terrible than the Flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert. Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.
‘Then he breathed upon me and took away the trembling from my limbs and caused me to stand upon my feet. And after that, he said not much, but that we should meet again, and I must go further up and further in. Then he turned him about in a storm and flurry of gold and was gone suddenly.
‘And since then, O Kings and Ladies, I have been wandering to find him and my happiness is so great that it even weakens me like a wound. And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved, me who am but as a dog -’
The Last Battle – Chapter 15 – Further Up and Further In (© C.S. Lewis)
Well, what I was going to write about today in response to Emeth’s Story has disappeared in the blast of ‘Breaking News’ from the BBC.
I could have spoken about the convergence in faith between ‘The People of the Book’ and how there is a growing acknowledgement that the God of the Old Testament is the same God who is worshipped by Jew, Christian and Muslim.
I could have spoken of the wonderful devout members of our congregation who learnt their Christian faith in Bagdad and in their prayers use the word ‘Allah’ to describe the God of Jesus whom they worship.
I could have called each of us to learn more of God’s grace by observing the devotion of those who belong to other religions.
And then three words are emblazoned upon the consciousness of the whole world
How could things have gone so wrong? How could allies, for whom soldiers from our nation and others have given their lives, turn and revolt and murder and, even, behead those who have spent their lives to bring them freedom?
Who are we to blame? Pastor Terry Jones and his fanatical burning of the Koran in Florida or the Taliban and their intolerance of the views of others in Afghanistan? Perhaps both? All I know is that there are families in many different nations who are today mourning the death of children who had committed their lives to making a better world.
What are we to do? I suspect that now, even more than when I had planned for Emeth’s story to be read, today is a good time to re-visit Jack Lewis’ wonderful understanding of the nature of different faiths illustrated in the conversation between Aslan and Emeth. Lewis reminds us that, regardless of whether we worship Tash or Aslan, no good devout deed can ever be unrighteous and, regardless of whether we worship Aslan or Tash, no deed with evil intention can ever be considered to be righteous.
This, of all days, is not the day to divide religions on deeds and start a renewed conflict between Crusaders and Saracens but today is instead a day when we decide to see how saddened God is by all the evil we do in God’s name. Today we must see how devastated the One who Loves us Best is at the way we have denied God’s gifts and turned the message of love into words of war.
Today let us weep together….
as your Son our Saviour
was born of a Hebrew mother,
but rejoiced in the faith of a Syrian woman
and of a Roman soldier,
welcomed the Greeks who sought him,
and needed a man from Africa to carry his cross;
so teach us to regard the members of all races
as fellow heirs of the kingdom of Jesus Christ our Lord.
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Seek out a friend of a different faith and demonstrate your care for them
Find out more about other faiths – if you live in Suffolk why not visit www.sifre.org.uk if you live further away investigate local inter-faith resources.
Spend some time this weekend in silence before God over the deaths at Mazar-i-Sharif.
If possible name those who have been killed in your prayers. Among them are four Nepalese guards, presumably sometime members of the Gurkha Regiment and 27-year-old UN Swedish United Nations worker Joakim Dungel.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018