Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 28 – Changing
Setting the Scene: At the end of ‘The Horse and His Boy’ Bree is struggling with the knowledge that he might not be allowed to be a normal horse in Narnia. Shasta is even more concerned as he has discovered that his real name is Cor and he is the long lost heir of King Lune of Archenland. Princedom is not sitting easily on his shoulders….
‘Buck up, Bree,’ said Cor. ‘It’s far worse for me than for you. You aren’t going to be educated. I shall be learning reading and writing and heraldry and dancing and history and music while you’ll be galloping and rolling on the hills of Narnia to your heart’s content.’
‘But that’s just the point,’ groaned Bree. ‘Do Talking Horses roll? Supposing they don’t? I can’t bear to give it up. What do you think, Hwin?’
‘I’m going to roll anyway,’ said Hwin. ‘I don’t suppose any of them will care two lumps of sugar whether you roll or not.’
‘Are we near that castle?’ said Bree to Cor.
‘Round the next bend,’ said the Prince.
‘Well,’ said Bree, ‘I’m going to have a good one now: it may be the last. Wait for me a minute.’
It was five minutes before he rose again, blowing hard and covered with bits of bracken.
‘Now I’m ready,’ he said in a voice of profound gloom. ‘Lead on, Prince Cor, Narnia and the North.’
But he looked more like a horse going to a funeral than a long-lost captive returning to home and freedom.
The Horse and His Boy – Chapter 14 – How Bree Became a Wiser Horse (© C.S. Lewis)
‘And that’s truer than thy brother knows, Cor,’ said King Lune. ‘For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.’
The Horse and His Boy – Chapter 15 – Rabadash the Ridiculous (© C.S. Lewis)
Some of you may know that I have recently been elected to General Synod and, when Her Majesty the Queen came to Westminster Abbey and Church House in November to inaugurate the Quinquennium I understand that some of my colleagues had taken a few bets as to whether I would still wear sandals in front of my monarch. They should have known me better! But it was worrying to find that I was the only member of General Synod who wore sandals to the event – it was, however, comforting the next day to find that the Bishop of Dudley – now elevated to Manchester – also wore sandals (well he is a Franciscan as well) but he was wearing socks with his sandals. I wait to see if he will dispense with his hose during the warmer weather of the July Synod in York J
As we journey closer to home it is not surprising to wonder whether we will fit in with all the other saints of God. I know God loves me, sandal wearing fetish and all, but what about the others? Will I blend in when I get to Paradise? Are any of us going to be perfect enough to enter the kingdom of the beloved?
Well it really does not matter. As Hwin reminded us a few days ago ‘The main thing is to get there.’ And if this mean we bring with us a few peculiarities of our own well so be it – after all God calls ‘us’ not someone else and if we are good enough for God then we are good enough for everyone else in heaven. There are a few things which are more important than our desire to have a good roll in the grass , wear sandals, or whatever it is that makes us ‘us’.
This leads to the second part of today’s story. If we are to lead others home then we need to learn to be people who ‘laugh louder’ even when we have little cause to do so. Cutting ourselves off from the things which are make us to be who we are will lead us to gloom and despair – as it threatened to do for Bree and Cor.
I will be forever grateful for the gentle ministry of Yolande Mongo. Yolande was Head Girl in the Boarding House of the school where I was chaplain in Johannesburg. She was the eldest of a large family from Mozambique and faced many challenges, not least of which was a personally disability with her hands. Early one morning on the way to breakfast she asked me how I was. It was not the best of days for me and I told her that I had been in better places in my life. Imagine my surprise when a sixteen-year-old girl – wise beyond her years – rounded on me and reminded me that my job as school chaplain was to be the fountainhead of joy and hope for everyone else in the school. I have never forgotten that day and have tried to live a life of joy from that day to this.
There is nothing less inspiring than a sad Christian. Each of us must ‘always be ready to give account for the hope that is within us’ and sour faced followers of Jesus need to learn the lesson that Yolande Mongo taught me many years ago in Johannesburg. It is our job to bring hope and joy and laughter to those around us. If that happens because they are laughing with us at our peculiarities of sandal wearing or rolling in the grass, then so be it. There can be nothing worse than finally arriving home and find it to be a place filled with people who are down in the mouth and empty of joy. Heaven needs our eccentricities and the things about us which makes others smile – let’s march joyfully towards heaven, I hope to be wearing sandals as I enter St Peter’s gate what will you bring?
We praise and thank you, Holy Spirit of God,
for the men and women you have called to be saints;
from your first fallible, frightened friends
who followed you to Jerusalem,
through the centuries of discovery of growth,
people of every class and temperament
down to the present day.
We praise you, Holy Spirit, for calling us
to serve you now,
for baptizing us to represent you
in this broken world.
Help us to be Christ’s united body to heal and reconcile;
help us to share Christ’s life with everyone.
A New Zealand Prayer Book
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Tell someone a joke today.
Take off your shoes – or whatever else you want to do which you think ‘proper’ people may not approve of you doing.
Try to ‘look on the bright side of life’ the next time someone complains about life.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018