Updated: Jun 19
My family and I are trying to read CS Lewis's Narnia Tales each night, and we're almost finished with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Aslan has not yet been sacrificed in place of Edmund's treachery, but we'll likely read about that one of these nights soon. I don't know how my son will react to Aslan's death, but the scene brings tears to me each time I read it.
In the book, we learn about a Deep Magic in Narnia that keeps everything perpetually in a winter (without Christmas!) and about the inhabitants of Narnia who are trying (or have tried) to work against this deep magic, and how many of them are turned to stone by the wicked Queen of Narnia. Most of the rest of the animals live in a sort of suspended animation (no pun intended), begrudgingly accepting the fact of perpetual winter, but some of the holdouts act more like subversive rebels who believe, against their better judgment and all outward signs, that all is not lost. Spring will come, and they tenaciously hold on to the hope that the lion Aslan, the true King of Narnia, will return, as the prophesies said he would, to usher it in. And so they wait. And wait. And wait.
When the day inevitably comes towards the end of the book, those who had sided with the Queen and spent their lives in her service are in complete disbelief (in more ways than one) as the snow begins to thaw, the birds begin to sing in the trees, and Santa Claus even makes a surreptitious visit to bring gifts. And as spring slowly breaks in, so does a deeper magic. Lucy, Susan, Peter, and Edmund Pevensie are confused by the whole affair and what it all means, this Deep Magic being broken by an even deeper one and spring's -- and Aslan's -- return. So Aslan sits the children down and explains:
"It means that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation."
Most of us find ourselves assaulted by so much of what is happening in the world today, which feels a lot like a perpetual winter with no Santa Claus, but there are some of us who continue to hold tenaciously on to the same hope the animals of Narnia held on to: the Truth will prevail and a deeper magic will break the many-sided spell that has been cast on what seems like the whole blessed planet -- or at least this entire country.
The purveyors of such spells do indeed use a Deep Magic, which holds sway over a surprisingly large percentage of the population on both the Right and the Left (the spells look contradictory at the outset but have the same general effect in the end, which is to distort the truth for political advantage and personal gain). But we who choose to pay attention, not only to what we can see but to what we can't -- not only back to the dawn of time but a little further back, into the stillness and darkness before Time dawned -- we see, and sense, hear and read of the rumors of a deeper magic. "In the beginning was the Word..." And, struggle as we do, we believe. And hope. And at least a part of each us somehow knows that, though the darkness gathers around us on almost every side, a light shines in that darkness, and the darkness shall not put it out.
Aslan is coming.