Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Voyage of the Earth Treader

I love C. S. Lewis. The man's mind amazes me and His writings have both challenged and inspired. I could say that though, about a number of other writers, what sets Lewis apart in my mind is his ability to communicate through metaphor and in many different styles. Whether he was writing essays, radio shows or fiction, he always had something significant to say and a striking way to say it.

That said, I've recently been making my way through the Chronicles Of Narnia. A series of "children's" fiction of which it has been said the series should be read at least three times - once when a child, once in early adulthood and once in later life. I'm going to splurge a bit now about a short passage which has to be one of my favourites from the third book in the series, 'The Voyage of The Dawn Treader'. We pick up the story towards the very end of the book and find that having arrived at the very end of the world and standing with a view into Aslan's world Lucy puts a question to lamb recently encountered:

"Please, Lamb," said Lucy, "is this the way to Aslan's country?"
"Not for you," said the Lamb. "For you the door into Aslan's country is from your own world."
"What!" said Edmund. "Is there a way into Aslan's country from our world too?"
"There is a way into my country from all the worlds," said the Lamb; but as he spoke his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane.
"Oh, Aslan," said Lucy. "Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?"
"I shall be telling you all the time," said Aslan. "But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder."

I love C. S. Lewis! Wait did I say that already? I think the reason that passage struck home with me is that Lucy's cry has so many times been my own. How do I get into God's country? What is the way, the key, the forumula, the secret? I look for answers but I find that Aslan's only answer is both disappointing yet satisfying beyond what I was looking for. "I shall be telling you all the time."

More and more I learn that life as a Christian isn't about buying a ticket, it's nothing so impersonal, it's about following Jesus as He leads us along a path. For all of us the path is identical yet for every one of us it is different. There is no formula of behaviour, actions or speech which we can replicate and get to God, and the characters and locations which make up our 'world' will be different for each of us. However, the path is the same for us all in humbly seeking the Lord and in faith doing what He asks.

Lewis' passage also speaks to me of how many of us separate the 'spiritual' parts and acts of life from the earthly, mundane things. Yet Aslan's words still ring true. In every avenue and activity of life God can speak to you, in everything He can direct you. I'm reminded of those times when I've encoutered someone who has immersed themselves in and become fascinated by a subject which has become their passion. Their enthusiasm for and knowledge of their chosen fascination becomes infectious and what before seemed dull or two-dimensional suddenly has become to me a whole new world of interest.

Such it is with God. I've learned that not only does He know every detail about all of creation and life but He's enthralled with it all, loves it beyond description and sees so much value in every little thing. As you come close to God, if you ask Him He'll start to share His passion and compassion, His knowledge and His perspective. From physics to philosophy, art to archaeology, biology to behaviour, and even from cleaning the house to going to work God can and longs to inspire and rejuvenate. To give life it's full meaning and see it lived out to the maximum. Quoting Thoreau via 'The Dead Poets Society', "I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life ... to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived". On this journey with God nothing is beyond His scope for inspiration, teaching and growth, and everything holds an opportunity to know Him more and to walk further down the path towards Him. All of life comes alive and becomes spiritual when lived with God.