Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 32 – Learning
Setting the Scene: ….the witch’s enchantment has almost enthralled everyone until Puddleglum makes a move.
The Prince and the two children were standing with their heads hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all gone from them; the enchantment almost complete. But Puddleglum, desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire. Then he did a very brave thing. He knew it wouldn’t hurt him quite as much as it would hurt a human; for his feet (which were bare) were webbed and hard and coldblooded like a duck’s. But he knew it would hurt him badly enough; and so it did. With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth. And three things happened at once.
First, the sweet heavy smell grew very much less. For though the whole fire had not been put out, a good bit of it had, and what remained smelled very largely of burnt Marsh-wiggle, which is not at all an enchanting smell. This instantly made everyone’s brain far clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.
Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, ‘What are you doing? Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I’ll turn the blood to fire inside your veins.’
Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum’s head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.
The Silver Chair – Chapter 12 – The Queen of Underland (© C.S. Lewis)
Hurrah for Puddleglum and all those like him who are perhaps a little slow of emotion but fierce as terriers when it comes to defending the faith. The marshwiggles of my acquaintance are those who are sometimes described as the ‘stone pillars of the church’. There are even some (who tend not to worship frequently but nevertheless know the importance of faith for the life of the community) who can be described as ‘flying buttresses of the church’. These are those who spend time supporting the faithful from outside the building.
It is all too easy to forget the vocation and dedication of the marsh-wiggles of our faith. They are the ones who take the heat of the journey, stamping on the fires of doubt and reminding us of the strong light of the world above. They are not always easy people to work with – I have yet to understand how Jill and Eustace managed to cope with Puddleglum’s perpetual gloom – but these ‘stone pillars’ are the ones who hold the roof up and so liberate others to answer the call of God more closely.
Stone pillars, by their nature, do not move very far and, if we are unkind and lacking in grace, we may see them as getting in our way instead of enabling our journey. Without Puddleglum’s courage and the personal cost of his action the whole of Narnia would be under the thrall of the witch. Without the care of the marshwiggles of our churches all of us would be the poorer and there would be less space in which to hear God’s call. The church needs all kinds of people – be they web footed, slow-witted, cold-blooded or not – and she is weaker if we do not include them in our care, prayers and fellowship.
you lead us by ways we do not know,
through joy and sorrow,
through victory and defeat,
beyond our understanding.
Give us faith to see your guiding hand in all things;
that being neither lifted up by seeming success,
nor cast down by seeming failure,
we may press forward wherever you lead,
to the glory of your name.
Eric Milner-White and G.W. Briggs
In ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Identify some of the stone pillars in your church community and find a way in which you can show your appreciation of their care and commitment.
Are there any unhealthy spiritual fires which need to be stamped out in your life? What is stopping you from extinguishing them?
Pray for those who are experiencing pain as part of their journey of faith.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018
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