Thursday, March 2, 2017

Insight from The Chronicles of Narnia:  Feeling Creation in The Magician’s Nephew




Most of us, I think, still operate with a view of nature as inert matter that serves as a quarry of resources for meeting your needs and wants. We know, or at least some us, know that we are pushing against the limits of nature and we need to change our patterns of consumption and use of its resources. But it does not seem that has realization has gotten from our heads to our hearts to the point where we actually change the way we live. At least not to the degree that we need to.

That eighteen inches between head and heart is often the most difficult for us to traverse. Our mode of connection to whatever we’re trying to get from our heads into our hearts needs to be more than just intellectual. The story of creation in The Magician’s Nephew can help us with that.

Part of our problem is our tendency to allow the creation stories in the Bible to be reduced to the creation v. evolution controversy. Thus we do not often feel the stories’ beauty and depth. That we tend to speak of nature rather than creation is a symptom that we have not felt the biblical story rightly. Lewis’ account of Narnia’s creation by means of Aslan’s singing has obvious affinities with God’s creating our world by his words. But it is different enough and unfamiliar enough for its beauty and profundity to help us feel it in ways we can’t the biblical story.

Enjoy Lewis’ telling. Reflect on it. Revel in it. Let it forever season how you think about creation and our use of it.

“In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very       far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes     it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming    out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the             earth herself.
“There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the     most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it. The             horse seemed to like it too; he gave the sort of whiney a horse would give if, after years of  being a cab-horse, it found itself back in the old field where it had played as a foal, and saw someone whom it remembered and loved coming across the field to bring it a lump of sugar.
“‘Gawd!’ said the Cabby. ‘Ain't it lovely?’
Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly          joined by other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony      with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was          that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn't come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but            darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out - single stars,               constellations, and planets, brighter and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and             heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves        which were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them          appear and made them sing.
"’Glory be!’ said the Cabby. ‘I'd ha' been a better man all my life if I'd known there were          things like this."
“The Voice on the earth was now louder and more triumphant; but the voices in the sky,         after singing loudly with it for a time, began to get fainter. And now something else was           happening.
“Far away, and down near the horizon, the sky began to turn grey. A light wind, very fresh, began to stir. The sky, in that one place, grew slowly and steadily paler. You could see                shapes of hills standing up dark against it. All the time the Voice went on singing.
“There was soon light enough for them to see one another's faces. The Cabby and the two     children had open mouths and shining eyes; they were drinking in the sound, and they               looked as if it reminded them of something. Uncle Andrew's mouth was open too, but not       open with joy. He looked more as if his chin had simply dropped away from the rest of his       face. His shoulders were stopped and his knees shook. He was not liking the Voice. If he          could have got away from it by creeping into a rat's hole, he would have done so. But the      Witch looked as if, in a way, she understood the music better than any of them. Her mouth was shut, her lips were pressed together, and her fists were clenched. Ever since the song     began she had felt that this whole world was filled with a Magic different from hers and              stronger. She hated it. She would have smashed that whole world, or all worlds, to pieces, if it would only stop the singing. The horse stood with its ears well forward, and twitching.           Every now and then it snorted and stamped the ground. It no longer looked like a tired old      cab-horse; you could now well believe that its father had been in battles.
“The eastern sky changed from white to pink and from pink to gold. The Voice rose and             rose, till all the air was shaking with it. And just as it swelled to the mightiest and most             glorious sound it had yet produced, the sun arose.
“Digory had never seen such a sun. The sun above the ruins of Charn had looked older than ours: this looked younger. You could imagine that it laughed for joy as it came up. And as       its beams shot across the land the travellers could see for the first time what sort of place           they were in. It was a valley through which a broad, swift river wound its way, flowing                eastward towards the sun. Southward there were mountains, northward there were lower       hills. But it was a valley of mere earth, rock and water; there was not a tree, not a bush, not a blade of grass to be seen.
“The earth was of many colours: they were fresh, hot and vivid. They made you feel                    excited; until you saw the Singer himself, and then you forgot everything else.
“It was a Lion. Huge, shaggy, and bright, it stood facing the risen sun. Its mouth was wide     open in song and it was about three hundred yards away.”

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