Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 25 – Changing
Setting the Scene: The biggest challenge facing the escapees in ‘The Horse and His Boy’ is to pass through Tashbaan (the capital of Calormen) without being seen to be fugitives. A difficult task for a War Horse and a well-bred mare, not to mention the humans!
‘We’ll have to have a disguise,’ said Shasta.
Hwin said it looked to her as if the safest thing was to go right through the city itself from gate to gate because one was less likely to be noticed in the crowd. But she approved of the idea of disguise as well. She said, ‘Both the humans will have to dress in rags and look like peasants or slaves and all Aravis’s armour and our saddles and things must be made into bundles and put on our backs, and the children must pretend to drive us and people will think we’re only pack-horses.’
‘My dear Hwin!’ said Aravis rather scornfully. ‘As anyone could mistake Bree for anything but a war-horse however you disguised him!’
‘I should think not, indeed,’ said Bree, snorting and letting his ears go ever so little back.
‘I know it’s not a very good plan,’ said Hwin. ‘But I think it’s our only chance. And we haven’t been groomed for ages and we’re not looking quite ourselves (at least, I’m sure I’m not). I do think if we get well plastered with mud and go along with our heads down as if we’re tired and lazy – and don’t lift our hooves hardly at all – we might not be noticed. And our tails ought to be cut shorter: not neatly, you know, but all ragged.’
‘My dear Madam,’ said Bree. ‘Have you pictured to yourself how very disagreeable it would be to arrive in Narnia in that condition?’
‘Well,’ said Hwin humbly (she was a very sensible mare), ‘the main thing is to get there.’
The Horse and His Boy – Chapter 3 – At the Gates of Tashbaan (© C.S. Lewis)
It is said that once Saint Teresa of Avila was riding through the back roads of Spain during a torrential rainstorm. Her horse-drawn cart hit a huge pothole and collapsed, throwing her head-first into the mud. Saint Teresa complained to Jesus at being treated in this manner in the midst of trying to serve Him. The voice of Jesus then came to her from the heavens: ‘This is how I treat my friends, Teresa.’ Wiping the mud from her face, she replied, ‘No wonder you have so few!’
Every so often, to get to the place where God wants us to be we need to pass up a little bit of our pride, status and appearance. This is the wisdom of the beloved Hwin, ‘the main thing is to get there.’ The goal is more important than the means; the journey, no matter how varied or challenging, is always the servant of the destination. This may, if we are obedient and careful listeners, lead us into places where we are not always shown to our best advantage and may demand that we have to learn humility and be ready to take the last place.
Yes, it is very tempting to let people know and see that we are the proud ‘war horses’ of God. Yes, it is difficult to let go and no longer be the first voice listened to and the first example followed. But then who ever said that the journey to Narnia and the North was going to be easy and was always going to be only about our road? After all are we not occasionally called to turn Scripture on its head and ‘hide’ our lamp under a bushel?
I have always believed that one of the first tasks of a Christian, especially those called to minister to others, is to be a chameleon. We are called to become people who are willing to ‘blend in’ to the world around us so that we can win the same world to the way of our Lord. An occasional face full of mud and a raggedy tail is just part of the journey and one of the ways in which we are meant to help others find the way home.
said Hwin humbly (she was a very sensible mare), ‘the main thing is to get there.’
O Lord God,
who called your servants
to ventures of which we cannot see the ending,
by paths as yet untrodden,
through perils unknown:
Give us faith
to go out with a good courage,
not knowing where we are going,
but only that your hand is leading us,
and your love supporting us;
to the glory of your name.
Eric Milner White and G.W.Briggs
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
If someone gets in your way in the next while – smile.
If you were to ‘take a mud bath’ to make you stick out less what would that mean?
Today, if possible, be the last person to say anything in a conversation.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018