Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 33 – Learning
Setting the Scene: The light is returning to the Underland but there is still danger to face. For with the demise of The Lady of the Green Kirtle her realm is collapsing as well. The Prince stops and reminds his rescuers whose business it is that they are about as they try to escape from Underland.
‘Look, friends,’ he said, holding out the shield towards them. ‘An hour ago it was black and without device; and now, this.’ The shield had turned bright as silver, and on it, redder than blood or cherries, was the figure of the Lion.
‘Doubtless,’ said the Prince, ‘this signifies that Aslan will be our good lord, whether he means us to live or die. And all’s one, for that. Now, by my counsel, we shall all kneel and kiss his likeness, and then all shake hands one with another, as true friends that may shortly be parted. And then, let us descend into the city and take the adventure that is sent us.’
And they all did as the Prince had said. But when Scrubb shook hands with Jill, he said, ‘So long, Jill. Sorry I’ve been a funk and so ratty. I hope you get safe home,’ and Jill said, ‘So long, Eustace. And I’m sorry I’ve been such a pig.’ And this was the first time they had ever used Christian names, because one didn’t do it at school.
The Silver Chair – Chapter 13 – Underland Without the Queen (© C.S. Lewis)
I have long since given up on believing in coincidences. Too many times in my life, and even during this Lent through these reflections, exactly the right thing has occurred at exactly the right moment and called me to do all that I can for the One who Loves us Best.
So it is with our adventurers who, having escaped from the spell of the witch, still need to travel deeper into the darkness of Underland, before they can breathe the free Narnian air. Aslan sends them a sign – his likeness on an old shield – as a reminder that they are following the correct path. In the coincidences of my life (which I sometimes call ‘God-incidences’) it seems that God is always there at crucial turning points and sends me signs and symbols, words and pictures, which keep me on the straight and narrow. These moments have become for me occasions of sanctified ‘deja-vu’. Times when I realise that God has been there ahead of me, is with me now, and will lead me from the present confusion and darkness to the clear light of heaven.
Of course we do not travel this journey alone. The signs that our gracious Lord sends to us are not always personal intimate trysting moments but sometimes, wonderfully so, moments of shared call and joint vocation. I am reminded of Francis of Assisi who, early on in his following in the footsteps of Jesus, felt that he was convinced he had to tread this path alone. That is until he records that…
‘It pleased the Lord to give me brothers’.
When times of sanctified ‘deja-vu’ come to us there is no longer any room for doubt; come what may we must follow. However we do not always have to follow alone. It does indeed ‘please the Lord’ to give us brothers, sisters, friends and journey partners. So Scrubb and Pole change and become Eustace and Jill (which they would never do elsewhere) and, throughout the story, have developed the dangerous habit of holding hands – which seems to be an ‘ok’ thing to do in Narnia.
Going deeper into dark places is always challenging but is made easier by signs along the way and fellow pilgrims along the road. Look for both, it will be easier to find the way and quicker to return to the full light of God’s presence.
O Father, give my spirit power to climb
To the fountain of all light, and be purified.
Break through the mists of earth, the weight of clay,
Shine forth in splendour, you who are calm weather,
And quiet resting-place for faithful souls.
You carry us, and you go before;
You are the journey, and the journey’s end.
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Look back on your journey and find the ‘signs’ that have reminded of the journey past. If they are small enough, make a collection of them to use as signposts for the future. I keep trinkets of my journey – badges, small crosses, prayer cards – in a printers tray.
‘Shake hands’ with those whom God has called to be your partners in the journey. This does not have to be a formal hand-clasp – there are many ways in which you can cherish the special relationships to which God has called you.
Pray for those who tread a lonely path in following the call of God.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018