OCTOBER 10, 2010 - Do You Believe the World is Flat? - (Collin)
It is possible to assume or think or even know that the world isn't flat while at the same time believing it in our hearts. Ask yourself this question: "Do you believe the world is flat?"
I decided to read through the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time since I read it for an assignment in middle school way back in the nineties, and I got started about a month or so ago. When I was reading Prince Caspian, there were two consecutive chapters that forced me to ask myself that question.
If you don't know the story, I highly recommend you read the whole thing. The story up to this point is that siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy were transported to the land of Narnia via a magic wardrobe. Edmund betrayed his family and in so doing gave ownership of his life to the White Witch. The great Lion, Aslan, who breathed life into Narnia, offered his life up as payment for Edmund's debt. Edmund was set free. Aslan was killed, but then returned to life and conquered the White Witch. Years later, they found themselves magically transported back to Narnia again, summoned by a magic horn to aid Prince Caspian in taking back Narnia from the Tellmarines. They lose their way, and all along, Lucy, the youngest, swears she can see Aslan trying to guide them, but none of the others believe her, which is where I pick up.
(If you have read the series, this blog entry does not refer to the round world/flat world conversation between Edmund and Caspian in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - that is a literal discussion about the physical shape of the world.)
From Prince Caspian:
"A circle of grass, smooth as a lawn, met her eyes, with dark trees dancing all round it. And then - oh joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath 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. And the next thing she knew was that she was kissing him and putting her arms as far round his neck as she could and burying her face in the beautiful rich silkiness of his mane.
"'Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,' sobbed Lucy. 'At last.'"
What a gorgeous picture. I must have re-read it about 10 times, nearly breathless every time. I think I found out why it hit me so hard a few pages later.
"'I can't see anything,' said Peter after he had stared his eyes sore. 'Can you, Susan?'
"'No, of course I can't,' snapped Susan. 'Because there isn't anything to see. She's been dreaming. Do lie down and go to sleep, Lucy.'"
We teachers have the wonderful benefit of a Summer Break, but that means that when we get in the thick of things and get mired down in the everyday, it's even easier to stop looking and just chalk it up to "There isn't anything to see." It is so easy to keep looking down at the ground. To think that everything is exactly as it appears. To believe that our worlds really are flat. Sure, we might say we believe in something, but does it affect our perspective? Have we let our worlds define us? Being honest, I find myself acting like Peter and Susan more often than I do acting like Lucy. At the faintest hint of Aslan's presence, Lucy is completely sure he is there. She never doubts for a second.
After Lucy and Edmund convince the other two to follow without seeing...
"'Lucy,' said Susan in a very small voice.
"'Yes?' said Lucy.
"'I see him now. I'm sorry.'
"'That's all right.'
"'But I've been far worse than you know. I really believed it was him - he, I mean - yesterday. When he warned us not to go down to the fir wood. And I really believed it was him tonight, when you woke us up. I mean, deep down inside. Or I could have, if I'd let myself. But I just wanted to get out of the woods and - and - oh, I don't know. And whatever am I to say to him?'
"'Perhaps you won't need to say much,' suggested Lucy. . .
"After an awful pause, the deep voice said, 'Susan.' Susan made no answer but the others thought she was crying. 'You have listened to fears, child,' said Aslan. 'Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?'"
What keeps you from seeing beyond a flat, day-to-day, surface world? To what fears have you listened? To what fears have I listened? Trivial things like making sure everything's ready for work tomorrow? Worrying about what your schedule will look like this weekend? Do you and I keep putting off the important questions because of little fears, or is it something deeper, like "I've been far worse than you know. . . whatever am I to say to him?"
If it is that, perhaps you won't need to say much. Your fears? Forget them. The White Witch demanded blood, but Aslan demanded nothing for Susan's debt. Neither does our God. The debts have already been paid. Don't stop to think whether or not He's a friendly God. You can run to Him no matter what you've done or how long it's been. You can trust me on this one; I have been in that situation many times.
Don't let your fears force you into believing the world is flat. No matter what busyness or guilt you have that tells you to do otherwise, look up. You may have an "at last" moment of your own.