Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 29 – Learning
Setting the Scene: Towards the end of The Last Battle as the whole of creation, including Narnia, is wrapped up King Tirian and the children find themselves to be the other side of the Stable which had been used to house Puzzle the donkey whilst he was dressed as the false Aslan. Once inside Tirian learns a valuable lesson.
‘Fair Sir,’ said Tirian to the High King, ‘this is a great marvel.’
‘It is the door you came through with that Calormene five minutes ago,’ said Peter smiling.
‘But did I not come in out of the wood into the stable? Whereas this seems to be a door leading from nowhere to nowhere.’
‘It looks like that if you walk round it,’ said Peter. ‘But put your eye to that place where there is a crack between two of the planks and look through.’
Tirian put his eye to the hole. At first he could see nothing but blackness. Then, at his eyes grew used to it, he saw the dull red glow of a bonfire that was nearly going out, and above that, in a black sky, stars. Then he could see dark figures moving about or standing between him and the fire: he could hear them talking and their voices were like those of Calormenes. So he knew that he was looking out through the stable door into the darkness of Lantern Waste where he had fought his last battle. The men were discussing whether to go in and look for Rishda Tarkaan (but none of them wanted to do that) or to set fire to the stable.
He looked round again and could hardly believe his eyes. There was the blue sky overhead, and grassy country spreading as far as he could see in every direction, and his new friends all round him laughing.
‘It seems, then,’ said Tirian, smiling himself, ‘that the stable seen from within and the stable seen from without are two different places.’
‘Yes,’ said the Lord Digory. ‘Its inside is bigger than its outside.’
‘Yes,’ said Queen Lucy. ‘In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.’
The Last Battle – Chapter 13 – How the Dwarfs Refused to be Taken in (© C.S. Lewis)
Seeing, they say, is believing. What difference would it then make to our lives if we saw things, as King Tirian did, as they really are? I for one know that if I could be absolutely certain of God’s presence then no amount of darkness or despair (I hope) would be able to stop me from running towards my heavenly home.
I suppose what I need is a lesson in Object Permanence. As young children grow it has been noted that they only believe things exist when they can see them – hide a favourite toy from a toddler for an experiment and you will soon realise that if they can’t see something they want they feel it has disappeared. This realisation is often followed by tears, anguish and the occasional tantrum!
For those of us who ‘walk by faith not by sight’ this lesson is hard to lean. We need reassurance and, if we do not receive it, we end up spending our life as spiritual toddlers. How do we learn about Object Permanence? How is it possible for us to know deep in our heart that most wonderful of Methodist charisms – assurance?
King Tirian learns it by looking backwards through a chink in the stable door. Although all he sees there is the darkness of his last battle suddenly he realises that all his life he has been living in the hands of Aslan and now, whether the stable be burnt down or not, the future is secure and
There was the blue sky overhead, and grassy country spreading as far as he could see in every direction, and his new friends all round him laughing.
It may seem like an old fashioned form of spirituality to be in the habit of counting blessings past or give thanks for the gift of the future but both these ways of worship (for that is what they are) are founded on the absolute conviction that God is amongst us and touches every part of our life. This conviction is present for those who have learnt the lessons of Object Permanence whether they can see everything there is to see or not. Would that each of us could learn to count God’s blessing, past and future, as well as those who have gone before us have.
O gracious and Holy Father,
give us wisdom to perceive you,
intelligence to understand you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,
a heart to meditate upon you,
and a life to proclaim you,
through the power of the Spirit
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Benedict of Nursia
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Spend some time looking back on God’s journey with you
Spend some time looking forward to God’s plans for you
Spend some time attending to what God is asking you to do today.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018