“Look! Look! Look!” cried Lucy.
“Where? What?” asked everyone.
“The Lion,” said Lucy. “Aslan himself. Didn’t you see?” Her face had changed completely and her eyes shone.
Lucy Pevensie is one of the main characters in the Narnia series. Usually a school-aged child from war-torn England in the 1940s, sometimes a grown Narnian Queen, always emotionally driven and in-tune, discerning, loving. Aslan is their God. One who had seemingly been missing from Narnia for quite some time, hence the Pevensie children returning in this book from which these quotes are pulled, Prince Caspian, to help the titular prince in a time of great Narnian need.
A reader unfamiliar with the book would think, then, that Lucy’s discovery would be met with excitement and/or relief, but no. Instead she is met with skepticism. Doubt. She stands her ground on what she saw and even pushes for what it all means:
“And he wanted us to go to where he was – up there.”
“How do you know that was what he wanted?” asked Edmund.
“He–I–I just know,” said Lucy, “by his face.”
The others all looked at each other in puzzled silence.
Lucy is met with more doubt.
“The only question is whether Aslan was really there.”
“But I know he was,” said Lucy, her eyes filling with tears.
“Yes, Lu, but we don’t, you see,” said Peter.
“There’s nothing for it but a vote,” said Edmund.
Practicality overrules her emotions, her intuition, her faith. She does find one ally, who had learned from experience, but consensus and leadership vote against her.
So they set off to their right along the edge, downstream. And Lucy came last of the party, crying bitterly.
Oh how I relate to Lucy. I am emotional to the core. I live and breathe emotions, in myself, and in what I sense and observe of others. I feel the deep betrayal she feels; the very real pain of having others not understand how to trust what you know to be true because they have not experienced it. And to sit in that state a little too deeply, a little too long, to get lost in it, even.
Friday night found me crying bitterly. I won’t get into it all here, it isn’t necessary to the point of this posting, but it was a needed release of a lot of frustrations. Yet it was also tempting to sit in that place. My frustrations are valid. My pain is real. But there is more to the story, and more to Lucy’s:
Lucy woke out of the deepest sleep you can imagine, with the feeling that the voice she liked best in the world had been calling her name…
“Lucy,” came the call again, neither her father’s voice nor Peter’s. She sat up, trembling with excitement but not with fear…
And then–oh joy! For HE was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow beneath him. But for the movement of his tail he might have been a stone lion, but Lucy never thought of that. She never stopped to think whether he was a friendly lion or not. She rushed to him. She felt her heart would burst if she lost a moment…
“Welcome, child,” he said…
There follows a brief but deep reconnection, where Lucy is reassured of who Aslan is, and how he is. Then,
“You have work in hand, and much time has been lost to-day.”
“Yes, wasn’t it a shame?” said Lucy. “I saw you all right. They wouldn’t believe me. They’re all so–”
From somewhere deep inside Aslan’s body there came the faintest suggestion of a growl.
“I’m sorry,” said Lucy, who understood some of his moods. “I didn’t mean to start slanging the others. But it wasn’t my fault anyway, was it?”
The Lion looked straight into her eyes.
“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “You don’t mean it was? How could I–I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? Don’t look at me like that…oh well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?”
Aslan said nothing.
“You mean,” said Lucy rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right — somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?”
OUCH. Lucy’s sitting in her emotions, crying bitterly, yet going along with everyone else was reasonable. Practical. But not what was best. This hits on another level. I have been learning about myself through various means that while my emotional intelligence is a gift, my emotional tendencies can be self-destructive. That although there is a certain comfort to be found in sitting in any one emotion – even the melancholy ones – there is not always goodness there. That although what I feel in a given moment is real, valid, and even quite often intense – it does not always reflect a whole picture of reality. It is not always what should propel action, and action that needs to be taken is often missed.
I recently practiced a posture of letting go. During church, the pastor created space for us all to sit, eyes closed, hands opened, and time to just let go, listen, reflect, and dream. During this space, these scenes from Narnia came to me very strongly (and so here we are). I couldn’t shake it; I didn’t want to. Is this in mind because of something I have missed or failed to do? Is this in mind because I’m on the precipice of doing so? I don’t know, honestly. But once I started typing the pieces from the passage that were brought to mind during that space, I kept reading further. Aslan responds to Lucy:
“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.”
“Oh dear,” said Lucy.
“But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me–what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.”
Pause – what would we do at this point? Surely having learned such a deep sorrow of missing out, we would jump at the chance, right? Or would we continue to question, continue to have some measure of doubt and fear, as Lucy herself proves to?
“Do you mean that is what you want me to do?” gasped Lucy.
“Yes, little one,” said Aslan.
“Will the others see you too?” asked Lucy.
“Certainly not at first,” said Aslan. “Later on, it depends.”
“But they won’t believe me!” said Lucy.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Aslan.
OOPH, right? I can tell you right now that my inner self disagrees with that not mattering. I am glad I kept reading. That simple phrase: “It doesn’t matter” seems to me an important part of why this story is in my mind as I work on letting go. You see, part of the context of that Sunday morning space is the church’s 2018 goal of Freedom. And my personal need to let go of control is no secret; I have blogged about it before. I have worked through it in counseling and on my own over the years. And the phrase “it doesn’t matter” and even the phrase “there is only one way of finding out” are very hard truths for emotional and controlling people to hear. “It doesn’t matter” feels false because I feel certain that it will matter. If others don’t believe me or join me, I will feel hurt. And I feel feeling as utmost reality. Which is where “there is only one way of finding out” comes in; what would practicing belief that some emotional experiences are not indicators of a greater whole be like? Well, there’s only one way, as they say. Lucy seems to process these words very similarly to myself:
“Oh dear, oh dear,” said Lucy. “And I was so pleased at finding you again. And I thought you’d let me stay. And I thought you’d come roaring in and frighten all the enemies away–like last time. And now everything is going to be horrid.”
“It is hard for you, little one,” said Aslan. “But things never happen the same way twice. It has been hard for us all in Narnia before now.
And in Aslan’s response is hope. He is not patronizing towards her feelings; he validates them. Then he lovingly offers perspective. As I open my hands to seeing things differently, here is bolstering proof that there is understanding awaiting ahead and others’ experiences behind.
As you look and let go, what freedom do you see?