This semester for work, me and my dear coworkers have been meandering our way through the Narnia series. Every couple Mondays we cluster together at the painfully bright and early hour of 8:32 (please note that I am not a morning person and that I normally am running a tad on the late side before 9am) to discuss Clive Lewis’ impeccable story-crafting skills. Basically what I’ve discovered is that the man is a genius.
Anyway, this morning we discussed The Silver Chair. For those that haven’t had the privilege of reading book six in the Chronicles of Narnia, the basic summary is that this guy named Eustace and a girl named Jill tumble their way into Narnia and are charged with a mission to find Prince Rilan by the fabulous and glorious Aslan. They pick up a melancholy (I just said that like Megamind) Marshwiggle named Puddleglum and go on this adventure that leads them to incredibly unexpected places. One such place is this dark, underground room where they are faced with a young man who seems to completely lose his mind. Spoiler alert, so I apologize, but basically it turns out that the Prince has been kidnapped by an evil witch who bewitches him to forget who he really is, and late at night he is forcibly strapped to a chair and held there because for a short time he remembers who he really is. Eustace, Jill and Puddleglum end up freeing him, but the witch shows up and things get super dodgy.
Bringing it back around, our discussion this morning centered around that particular scene and it really blew my mind. We touched briefly on the whole chair situation and unpacked how it pointed to lies that we’re told by the enemy, and that he literally tries to chain us down when we start to fight for what is true. That interpretation definitely resonates with me and is something that I need to really dig into more, but what hit me the most from that scene is that Aslan had totally equipped the adventurers in the community that they were with. So the witch shows up and starts to trick them into believing that the reality of that underground room is true and that there is no Aslan, that there’s no sun, all while this nasty incense is burning. Puddleglum stomps out the incense and they are able to break free of the enchantment and badaboom, badabang the witch gets defeated. But, you see, Puddleglum is not a hero. He just was exactly who he needed to be, exactly what he needed to be, exactly for that moment, exactly for that purpose, and he stepped out in faith.
“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.” ~Puddleglum
He is the hero – He steps out in faith and trusts despite what he sees in the moment, what he is hearing, and he just simply depends on the reality that he is who he is.
Now where my epiphany came to light is that I realize that I have no patience for Puddleglums in my life. They are hard to love and it’s irritating to be around them, and I quickly find that I simply live tolerating those kinds of people. But in the same way that Puddleglum probably irritated the heck out of Eustace and Jill with his melancholy (Megamind!) moods and morose outlook, he ended up being the only person that could intercede for them at the most pivotal of times. But as that piece shifted into place, I realized that the same dynamic was at play the entire time. Aslan gave Jill a specific job, and whether or not she followed through, it was all hers. Eustace had a different role, and his trust of Aslan played an important part in the story. Yet, despite their flaws, their bickering, and the true human messiness of their little trio, Aslan orchestrated the salvation of the Prince, who was chained by lies to his silver chair.
In my opinion, that is the true call to community = as we each walk with the Lord and live into what He has created us for specifically as we participate and invent in community, we get to bring freedom. We get to come into perfectly harmony as orchestrated by the Spirit of our Lord and watch crazy things happen when people experience true freedom.
With all that said, I highly recommend taking a lovely spring afternoon this year and go read The Silver Chair. I hope that it will bless you as much as it did me!
"Oh, hurray! Good old Puddleglum!" cried Scrubb and Jill.