Of Mice & Marshwiggles – Day 39 – Life after Life
Setting the Scene: At the end of The Magician’s Nephew Digory and Polly finally bring Aslan’s gift to his mother.
Digory took a minute to get his breath, and then went softly into his Mother’s room. And there she lay, as he had seen her lie so many other times, propped up on the pillows, with a thin, pale face that would make you cry to look at. Digory took the Apple of Life out of his pocket.
And just as the Witch Jadis had looked different when you saw her in our world instead of in her own, so the fruit of that mountain garden looked different too. There were of course all sorts of coloured things in the bedroom; the coloured counterpane on the bed, the wallpaper, the sunlight from the window, and Mother’s pretty, pale blue dressing jacket. But the moment Digory took the Apple out of his pocket, all those things seemed to have scarcely any colour at all. Every one of them, even the sunlight, looked faded and dingy. The brightness of the Apple threw strange lights on the ceiling. Nothing else was worth looking at: you couldn’t look at anything else. And the smell of the Apple of Youth was as if there was a window in the room that opened on Heaven.
‘Oh, darling, how lovely,’ said Digory’s Mother.
‘You will eat it, won’t you? Please,’ said Digory.
‘I don’t know what the Doctor would say,’ she answered. ‘But really – I almost feel as if I could.’
He peeled it and cut it up and gave it to her piece by piece. And no sooner had she finished it than she smiled and her head sank back on the pillow and she was asleep: a real, natural, gentle sleep, without any of those nasty drugs, which was, as Digory knew, the thing in the whole world that she wanted most. And he was sure now that her face looked a little different. He bent down and kissed her very softly and stole out of the room with a beating heart; taking the core of the apple with him. For the rest of that day, whenever he looked at the things about him, and saw how ordinary and unmagical they were, he hardly dared to hope; but when he remembered the face of Aslan he did hope.
That evening he buried the core of the Apple in the back garden.
The Magician’s Nephew – Chapter 15 – The End of this Story and the Beginning of all the Others (© C.S. Lewis)
Each of the Gospels paints a very different picture of the Cross. Matthew speaks of fulfilment of the Scriptures, Mark seems to shroud the cross in darkness and despair, in Luke Christ opens his arms to welcome the whole world. These are pictures with which many of us are familiar but not everyone sees the very different picture that John paints.
For John the cross is not a place of fated fulfilment nor is it a place of defeat. For John the cross becomes the throne of Christ. Foretold in Jesus’ own words earlier in the Gospel;
‘I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ (John 12.32)
In John’s gospel, Jesus is busy on the cross with this mission and the final words of ‘It is finished’ are for me, not a shout of despair, but the cry of triumph.
Today Jesus, like Aslan’s apple of youth, breaks into our world and everything looks pale and weak by comparison. As he foretold, life has arrived!
‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’ (John 10.10)
For John the cross is full of life. Yes, there is the thorn-crowned head, the broken body and the heaving suffocating chest. But above all else, on the cross the One who Loves us Best is dying to live. This is not a disaster; this is a victory. And, in the middle of his passionate death we find the birthplace of life and hope.
In Church art there are three kinds of cross. The crucifix – which reminds us of the great love of our Lord. The empty cross – which reveals the resurrection. And the Christus Rex, on which Christ is fully clothed and wears a king’s crown instead of a crown of thorns – shows him to be the one who has conquered death and, with arms wide open, extends his reign over the whole world.
Each of us will find ourselves drawn more to one picture of the cross than the other but, whichever one you will spend time gazing upon today, remember all of them, like Digory’s apple of youth, break into this world and transform everything – no matter how dark life may feel;
For the rest of that day, whenever [Digory] looked at the things about him, and saw how ordinary and unmagical they were, he hardly dared to hope; but when he remembered the face of Aslan he did hope.
Look on his face and hope.
as we stand at the foot of the cross of your Son,
help us to see and know your love for us,
so that in humility, love and joy
we may place at his feet
all that we have and all that we are;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
From ‘Celebrating Common Prayer’
in ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ © Angela Ashwin – Compiler
Make a cross. You choose how big, with what materials, and which sort.
…and if you have time plant something in your garden.
© Andrew Dotchin 2018