the one about a marsh-wiggle (and fighting for hope).

last week i finished my eighth annual reading of c.s. lewis’ the chronicles of narnia. i had read them as a kid- my third grade teacher read us several of them (waaaaaaaay back in 1991), and some family friends gave me the box set for my birthday in the sixth grade. i remember liking them as child- the adventure, the magic, the talking animals.
of course, there was a major resurgence in popularity when disney started remaking the movies in 2005- i was in college then, and i’m so glad that i took the opportunity to snatch up one of those ‘all 7 books in 1 volume’ tomes.  re-reading them that first time was even better than i remembered them as an 11 year old.  i’ve since loaned out the book (of course it never got returned!), so i resorted to the never-let-me-down awesomeness that is the amazon kindle store. wonder of wonders, they were on sale for less than $2 each when i went looking (its like Jesus really wanted me to have them or something).
there are lines in each book that are like old friends- i see them coming and eagerly anticipate hearing them again- perhaps the familiar words will speak with new tone or depth! and they usually do.
i’ve learned the palpability of longing from these books- once a character has encountered aslan, they want nothing more than to be near him again. that nearness changes them! lucy’s strength and goodness come from aslan’s touch and breath; eustace allows aslan to score off the layers of selfishness and arrogance and fear; shasta’s transformation from abused boy to found, loved prince is accomplished by him listening to aslan tell him the truth about himself.
but what struck me most during this year’s read-through was from ‘the silver chair’. i’ve always liked that book, but its never been my favorite (that usually ends up being ‘voyage of the dawn treader’ or ‘the horse and his boy’). this time, though …
without going into the plot (since you should just go read it)- there’s an evil witch passing herself of as a queen (isn’t there always?!), and she is enchanting a prince, a marsh-wiggle, and two human children to convince them that they have never known anything other than the place they are in now. the witch nearly manages to make them forget that they have come from another place; that there is a sun; and that aslan is real and had spoken to them. hope is nearly lost.

Then came the Witch’s voice, cooing softly like the voice of a wood-pigeon from the high elms in an old garden at three o’clock in the middle of a sleepy, summer afternoon; and it said: “What is this sun that you all speak of? Do you mean anything by the word?” “Yes, we jolly well do,” said Scrubb. “Can you tell me what it’s like?” asked the Witch (thrum, thrum, thrum, went the strings). “Please it your Grace,” said the Prince, very coldly and politely. “You see that lamp. It is round and yellow and gives light to the whole room; and hangeth moreover from the roof. Now that thing which we call the sun is like the lamp, only far greater and brighter. It giveth light to the whole Overworld and hangeth in the sky.” “Hangeth from what, my lord?” asked the Witch; and then, while they were all still thinking how to answer her, she added, with another of her soft, silver laughs: “You see? When you try to think out clearly what this sun must be, you cannot tell me. You can only tell me it is like the lamp. Your sun is a dream; and there is nothing in that dream that was not copied from the lamp. The lamp is the real thing; the sun is but a tale, a children’s story.” “Yes, I see now,” said Jill in a heavy, hopeless tone.

Slowly and gravely the Witch repeated, “There is no sun.” And they all said nothing. She repeated, in a softer and deeper voice. “There is no sun.” After a pause, and after a struggle in their minds, all four of them said together, “You are right. There is no sun.” It was such a relief to give in and say it.

“There never was a sun,” said the Witch.

“No, there never was a sun,” said the Prince, and the Marsh-wiggle, and the children.

For the last few moments Jill had been feeling that there was something she must remember at all costs. And now she did. But it was dreadfully hard to say it. She felt as if huge weights were laid on her lips. At last, with an effort that seemed to take all the good out of her, she said,

“There’s Aslan.”

there’s more than happens, of course- they manage to defeat the evil witch and make their way back into narnia. hope, and knowledge of the truth come back to them. remembering who aslan is changes them.

everything is different when you’re depressed. between the faithful work of christ and the unfailing patience of my counselor, i am learning to see through the fog of depression and to strain my ears to hear the voice that speaks life instead of listening to the voice that speaks death. i’ve realized that the most painful aspect of my own depression is the inability to hope. the inability to know that there is a sun, and the inability to believe what i know even when the other voice tries to tell me that there is no sun. being unable to hope means that i am often unable to act on what i know. without hope, there is no remembering; or if you do remember, the memories are disconnected from us- like they happened to someone else. hope is what allows us to remember with clarity, and apply what we know to what’s in front of us. hope is what allows us to acknowledge pain as something that hurts, but won’t be the end of us.  hope knows that feelings can’t always be trusted, and that God is always good. hope looks fear in the eye. hope makes us thirsty, and hope leads us back to the only stream whose water gives us life.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.”I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
There is no other stream,” said the Lion.”

hope is worth fighting for. sometimes fighting for hope looks like taking a nap. sometimes fighting for hope looks like going to small group after having the worst day ever. sometimes fighting for hope sounds like the only song that makes you feel anything turned up loud and put on repeat. sometimes fighting for hope is letting the doctor write you a prescription for prozac (and actually taking it). sometimes fighting for hope is weeping into the carpet of your bedroom; sometimes fighting for hope is screaming toward heaven.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (hebrews 10:23)








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2 responses to “the one about a marsh-wiggle (and fighting for hope).

  1. mom

    I read with heavy heart and listened to the song with tears running down my face, feeling so helpless to help someone that I love so much.Your pain has become mine.

  2. Pingback: the one where it’s out with the old. | thoughts from the waiting room

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