Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 37 – Life after Life
Setting the Scene: The White Witch has her moment of triumph over Aslan.
…..and they surged round Aslan, jeering at him, saying things like ‘Puss, Puss! Poor Pussy,’ and ‘How many mice have you caught today, Cat?’ and ‘Would you like a saucer of milk, Pussums?’
‘Oh, how can they?’ said Lucy, tears streaming down her cheeks. ‘The brutes, the brutes!’ for now that the first shock was over the shorn face of Aslan looked to her braver, and more beautiful, and more patient than ever.
‘Muzzle him!’ said the Witch. And even now, as they worked about his face putting on the muzzle, one bite from his jaws would have cost two or three of them their hands. But he never moved. And this seemed to enrage all that rabble. Everyone was at him now. Those who had been afraid to come near him even after he was bound began to find their courage, and for a few minutes the two girls could not even see him – so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him.
At last the rabble had had enough of this. They began to drag the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone Table, some pulling and some pushing. He was so huge that even when they got him there it took all their efforts to hoist him on to the surface of it. Then there was more tying and tightening of cords.
‘The cowards! The cowards!’ sobbed Susan. ‘Are they still afraid of him, even now?’
When once Aslan had been tied (and tied so that he was really a mass of cords) on the flat stone, a hush fell on the crowd. Four Hags, holding four torches, stood at the corners of the Table. The Witch bared her arms as she had bared them the previous night when it had been Edmund instead of Aslan. Then she began to whet her knife. It looked to the children, when the gleam of the torchlight fell on it, as if the knife were made of stone, not of steel, and it was of a strange and evil shape.
At last she drew near. She stood by Aslan’s head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but his looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice,
‘And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him out of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die.’
The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. They couldn’t bear to look and had covered their eyes.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – Chapter 14 – The Triumph of the Witch (© C.S. Lewis)
…..and who will take him out of my hand then?
Words of despair spat out by the White Witch seem to sum up the problem of the ‘willing victim’. If the one who has all power hands over their power to the wicked who will then protect the weak and the vulnerable?
When I feel threatened and vulnerable I draw great strength from the words of Jesus about his care for his sheep;
…..my sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.’
God has a ‘belt and braces’ approach to love. Jesus the Good Shepherd will care for us allowing no one to snatch us out of his hand and, just in case we do not think that is enough care, God the Father is backing Jesus to hold us in his hand as well!
In the middle of the pain and suffering and disaster of the sacrifice of our Lord; in the middle of the insults and shame and death; the one who loves us best opens wide his arms to embrace us and, literally holds ‘the whole world in his hands.’
With Lucy and Susan there are times when I too cannot look at the moment of death. To gaze on the cross is always painful. But for me the reasons are mixed. Most often I see the gore and the blood of his willing sacrifice and turn away unable to bear the reflected pain this brings me. But at other times I see only his great love – which is so bright that I turn my face away as well.
How am I to approach this Good Friday? How will I meet the one who loves me best as I attempt to walk the way to Gethsemane, through the mock trial before the Sanhedrin, the cowardice of Pilate and the final climb up the hill of Calvary? To be honest I do not know. But whether I see his pain most or his love most I know that I probably need to do this with head bowed low and heart opened wide.
Oh King of grief! (a title strange, yet true,
To thee of all kings only due)
Oh King of wounds! How shall I grieve for thee,
Who in all grief goeth before me?
Shall I weep blood? Why thou hast wept such store
That all thy body was one door.
Shall I be scourged, flouted, boxed, sold?
‘Tis but to tell the tale is told.
That for thy passion – I will do for that –
Alas. My God, I know not what.,
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Take a look at your plans for Good Friday. Whether you see the pain more than the love or see something of both, try this year to, sometime during the day, raise your eyes to the cross and see the open hands which welcome you into his embrace.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018