Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 38 – Life after Life
Setting the Scene: At the end of ‘The Silver Chair’ Aslan meets Jill and Eustace and puts to right everything which went wrong because they did not follow the tasks he gave them at the very beginning.
They were walking beside the stream and the Lion went before them: and he became so beautiful, and the music so despairing, that Jill did not know which of them it was that filled her eyes with tears.
Then Aslan stopped, and the children looked into the stream. And there, on the golden gravel of the bed of the stream, lay King Caspian, dead, with the water flowing over him like liquid glass. His long white beard swayed in it like water-weed. And all three stood and wept. Even the Lion wept: great Lion-tears, each tear more precious than the Earth would be if it was a single solid diamond. And Jill noticed that Eustace looked neither like a child crying, nor like a boy crying and wanting to hide it, but like a grownup crying. At least, that is the nearest she could get to it; but really, as she said, people don’t seem to have any particular ages on that mountain.
‘Son of Adam,’ said Aslan, ‘go into that thicket and pluck the thorn that you will find there, and bring it to me.’
Eustace obeyed. The thorn was a foot long and sharp as a rapier.
‘Drive it into my paw, Son of Adam,’ said Aslan, holding up his right fore-paw and spreading out the great pad towards Eustace.
‘Must I?’ said Eustace.
‘Yes,’ said Aslan.
Then Eustace set his teeth and drove the thorn into the Lion’s pad. And there came out a great drop of blood, redder than all redness that you have ever seen or imagined.
And it splashed into the stream over the dead body of the King. At the same moment the doleful music stopped. And the dead King began to be changed. His white beard turned to grey, and from grey to yellow, and got shorter and vanished altogether; and his sunken cheeks grew round and fresh, and the wrinkles were smoothed, and his eyes opened, and his eyes and lips both laughed, and suddenly he leaped up and stood before them – a very young man, or a boy. (But Jill couldn’t say which, because of people having no particular ages in Aslan’s country. Even in this world, of course, it is the stupidest children who are most childish and the stupidest grown-ups who are most grownup.) And he rushed to Aslan and flung his arms as far as they would go round the huge neck; and he gave Aslan the strong kisses of a King, and Aslan gave him the wild kisses of a Lion.
At last Caspian turned to the others. He gave a great laugh of astonished joy.
‘Why! Eustace!’ he said. ‘Eustace! So you did reach the end of the world after all. What about my second-best sword that you broke on the sea-serpent?’
Eustace made a step towards him with both hands held out, but then drew back with a somewhat startled expression.
‘Look here! I say,’ he stammered. ‘It’s all very well. But aren’t you? – I mean didn’t you -?’
‘Oh, don’t be such an ass,’ said Caspian.
‘But,’ said Eustace, looking at Aslan. ‘Hasn’t he – err died?’
‘Yes,’ said the Lion in a very quiet voice, almost (Jill thought) as if he were laughing. ‘He has died. Most people have, you know. Even I have. There are very few who haven’t.’
‘Oh,’ said Caspian. ‘I see what’s bothering you. You think I’m a ghost, or some nonsense. But don’t you see? I would be that if I appeared in Narnia now: because I don’t belong there any more. But one can’t be a ghost in one’s own country. I might be a ghost if I got into your world. I don’t know. But I suppose it isn’t yours either, now you’re here.’
A great hope rose in the children’s hearts. But Aslan shook his shaggy head. ‘No, my dears,’ he said. ‘When you meet me here again, you will have come to stay. But not now. You must go back to your own world for a while.’
The Silver Chair – Chapter 16 – The Healing of Harms (© C.S. Lewis)
Today is the beginning of the days of tears like diamonds and drops of deep red blood. Today is the day when we begin to realise the incredible price Christ pays for us and the depth of his great love for us. Today, or at least late tonight, is the time of thorns and pain and tears and sadness.
But today is also the day upon which our healing begins. Today is the day when we are faced with our betrayals, our sleepiness (yes, Jill did forget to keep on reciting the tasks Aslan gave her) and our denials. Today could so easily be, and is for many, a day of darkness.
But this is not what the One who loves us best intends for us! Today is the day of promise. Today is the day when, before his body is broken and his blood spilt, he gives us a life-giving meal. Today is the day when priests throughout the world renew their vows of service and, with their bishops, prepare the oils of healing and holiness for the coming year. Today is the day when feet are washed and we find in him the model of the new life to which we are called to live.
So, in some sense, today is also a day of dying. More than any other day of Lent today is for me the day when I try to finally let go of all the things which have stopped me from hearing his voice clearly. Today and tonight is the time when I will search the depths of my soul and, in the silence of the midnight vigil, expose my life to him, own the death which has lived within me, and ask for his life-giving blood and tears to wash, heal, and restore me.
Today could, if we are not careful, be a day of gathering darkness but it was always meant to be a day of dawning hope.
Great God, in Christ you call our name
and then receive us as your own,
not through some merit, right or claim
but by your gracious love alone.
We strain to glimpse your mercy- seat
and find you kneeling at our feet.
Then take the towel, and break the bread,
and humble us, and call us friends.
Suffer and serve till all are fed,
and show how grandly love intends
to work till all creation sings,
to fill all worlds, to crown all things.
Brian A. Wren
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
In the Gospels Jesus asks his disciples today, ‘could you not stay awake with me one hour?’ (Matthew 26.40)
When will you have your hour with God?
© Andrew Dotchin 2018