(Welcome to Inklings Week 2017! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)
Well y’all, another year and another Inklings Week comes to a close. I’ve had so much fun and I hope y’all have enjoyed the posts, learned something new and maybe even convinced a person or two to join the Inklings Club. I thought I’d finish out this week talking about one of my favorite characters in all of literature. Outside of the Bible, this character has helped me learn more about God’s character than any other work. Through each of the Narnia stories, Lewis shows the world one of the greatest stories ever told, all through a lion.
I started this week with a love letter of sorts and it’s only right I finish with one. Here are bits I loved from each book about Aslan. My hope is that whether or not you’ve read the books, you’ll be encouraged in these and ultimately the Greater Story. Also, is it really too much to ask to have a pet baby lion? Also, I tried to make this post shorter…I tried really hard…
The Magician’s Nephew
As with every Narnia novel, every time I finish this book, I say, “This one is my favorite!” It’s so beautiful. This tells the story of Narnia’s creation. And it really is one of my favorites. The beauty of creation, the temptation of power, the lessons learned, all of it! Here’s one of my favorites from the book:
“Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.”
One of the things I love of Lewis, is how he captures the feeling of being in Divine presence. While the creation of Narnia was stunning, breathtaking and beautiful, it paled in comparison to the creator. Take this scene:
“The earth was of many colors; 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.”
Also, sidenote: Tolkien and Lewis both used music in the creation of their universes and its one of my favorite things about them both. Music is powerful and only fitting they are used.
Alright, now onto the most popular (and the first one he published and another personal favorite).
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
This story is all about Jesus. From the descriptions, to his actions in the book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe reminds me most of Jesus as our Savior.
“He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” <<– Life Goals
Too many times we like to put God in a box (and trust me, many of times I have found myself doing the same thing). But how beautiful is it that He does the unexpected? We often want what we know, what we are comfortable with, but that often isn’t what is best for us. And it’s scary, but this wisdom from the Beaver is always a needed reminder:
“Safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Also, this: “People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time. If the children had ever thought so, they were cured of it now. For when they tried to look at Aslan’s face they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn’t look at him and went all trembly.”
Finally, this has one of the greatest presentations of the Gospel in fiction. I might even say the best. Aslan’s says this to Lucy and Susan as he explains why what the White Witch did has no power:
“…though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know…that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”
The Horse and His Boy
There are many people who say this is their least favorite of Chronicles or they don’t like it at all (or both). To which I say RUDE. And also, you’re wrong. I try and keep an open mind, I do, but not when it comes to this beauty! Maybe it’s because this was the first Narnia book I read (a year after college – I was way late to the Narnia train), but it’s more. Through this story of two children and two horses, Lewis reminds us of the many ways God comforts and leads us.
Throughout the adventure Shasta is on, he encounters lions/felines in different environments. When he finally encounters THE Aslan, he learns things weren’t all they seemed.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and -”
“There was only one: but he was swift on foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with an open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
“Who are you?” asked Shasta.
“Myself,” said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again “Myself,” loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself,” whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.
Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.
Also love this:
“It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.”
“But after one glance at the Lion’s face he (Shasta) slipped out of the saddle and fell at its feet. He couldn’t say anything but then he didn’t want to say anything, and he knew he needn’t say anything.”
“[Aslan] seems to be at the back of all the stories.” <<–RIGHT?!
I hope I have convinced the doubters of The Horse and His Boy’s brilliance. 🙂
This is one where Aslan is silent a majority of the book, but I would say that makes his arrival even more brilliant. I loved also, how they didn’t all see him at once. It’s a faith thing. Lucy never stopped believing in Aslan and, ““She sat up, trembling with excitement but not with fear.” The siblings (and Trumpkin) took a bit longer (and at different times), but even Aslan’s thoughts to them are telling:
After Peter apologized, Aslan calls him “My dear son.” To Edmund (who was more willing to believe Lucy this time), he says “Well done.” Then to Susan: “You have listened to your fears, child” said Aslan. “Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”
There’s also a scene at the end that shows the freedom that comes with following Aslan (Jesus). Aslan, Lucy and Susan go through the town and bring life to people. It’s beautiful. One of my favorite parts is that Aslan calls them, like the school mistress, Dear heart.
There are times when it feels like God is silent (whether we’re talking the 400 years between the OT and NT, or our individual lives), but he never is and we can hold on to that truth.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
There are so many amazing quotes and pieces to this story. I had nearly two pages of quotes, but thought that might be considered by some “excessive.” I can’t help it though! This story is full of so much adventure, yet Aslan is still always there. When they least expect it, when their hearts are being tempted to go astray, Aslan loves them enough to remind them of who they really are. The process isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.
Take the scene where Dragon Eustace became boy Eustace again:
“Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly toward me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn’t that kind of fear. I wasn’t afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it—if you can understand. Well, it came close up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn’t any good because it told me to follow it.”
“You mean it spoke?”
“Then the lion said—but I don’t know if it spoke—‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know—if you’ve ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is fun to see it coming away.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund
(Eustace describes the process a bit more…)
“What do you think it was, then?” asked Eustace.
“I think you’ve seen Aslan,” said Edmund.
“Aslan!” said Eustace. “I’ve heard that name mentioned several times since we joined the Dawn Treader. And I felt—I don’t know what—I hated it. But I was hating everything then. And by the way, I’d like to apologize. I’m afraid I’ve been pretty beastly.”
“That’s all right,” said Edmund. “Between ourselves, you haven’t been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor.”
I really love Edmund’s character. In all ways he isn’t afraid to mention his mistake and what he learned from it. Our stories have the chance to encourage and impact others.
I loved the same impact when Lucy encountered the beauty spell while in the Magician’s house:
“But when she looked back at the opening words of the spell, there in the middle of the writing, where she felt quite sure there had been no picture before, she found the great face of a lion, of The Lion, Aslan himself, staring into hers. It was painted such a bright gold that it seemed to be coming toward her out of the page; and indeed she never was quite sure afterward that it hadn’t really moved a little. At any rate she knew the expression on his face quite well. He was growling and you could see most of his teeth. She became horribly afraid and turned over the page at once.”
We also have the chance to see Aslan be there is the darkest of times (like the terrifying cloud near the island).
“Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.”
This final quote I want to share is also one of my favorites of the series. It says so much about Aslan and who Lewis made him to be. It’s after Edmund and Lucy find out their adventures in Narnia have come to an end and Lucy cries out because she fears she will never see Aslan again. His response is as such:
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
The Silver Chair
First let us all give a moment of thanks for Lewis’ creation of Puddleglum. I love him. And if the rumors of The Silver Chair movie are true, they better not mess him up! This story has such reminders about calling, trusting in Aslan. Early on Scrubb isn’t quite sure if they arrived in Narnia by mistake, but Aslan’s response is quite simple: “You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.”
Why do I love Puddleglum? He says it like it is. This scene, everytime I read it, I am reminded that God doesn’t always give us the full picture, but take one step at a time.
“Oh, if only we knew!” said Jill.
“I think we do know,” said Puddleglum.
“Do you mean you think everything will come right if we do untie him?” said Scrubb.
“I don’t know about that,” said Puddleglum. “You see, Aslan didn’t tell Pole what would happen. He only told her what to do. That fellow will be the death of us once he’s up, I shouldn’t wonder. But that doesn’t let us off following the sign”
I’ll end one more from Puddleglum. His response to the Witch (who is trying to convince the children and Marshwiggle that there was never a sun or Narnia) says this:
“‘One word, Ma’am,’ he said… ‘One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”
I’ll take Narnia too.
The Last Battle
I LOVE THIS ONE SO MUCH. Every single thing about it. Lewis’ descriptions, the hints of what is to come…all of it is so beautiful. I’ll kick off the quotes when they go into the new Narnia:
“What was the fruit like? Unfortunately no one can describe a taste. All I can say is that, compared with those fruits, the freshest grapefruit you’ve ever eaten was dull, and the juiciest orange was dry, and the most melting pear was hard and woody, and the sweetest wild strawberry was sour. And there were no seeds or stones, and no wasps. If you had once eaten that fruit, all the nicest things in this world would taste like medicines after it. But I can’t describe it. You can’t find out what it is like unless you can get to that country and taste it for yourself.”
“…but as he spoke the earth trembled. The sweet air grew suddenly sweeter. A brightness flashed behind them. All turned. Tirian turned last because he was afraid. There stood his heart’s desire, huge and real, the golden Lion, Aslan himself, and already the others were kneeling in a circle round his forepaws and burying their hands and faces in his mane as he stooped his great head to touch them with his tongue. Then he fixed his eyes upon Tirian, and Tirian came near, trembling, and flung himself at the Lion’s feet, and the Lion kissed him and said, “Well done, last of the Kings of Narnia who stood firm at the darkest hour.”
Raise your hand if you cry when Aslan shows up?
“It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried: “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this.”
Lewis was able to so brilliantly capture a teeny bit of our heart’s reaction to Glory. Of course it is beyond our wildest dreams, but I love so so much that he was able to stir our hearts with these passages and story.
“Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly.” #CommenceCrying
Further up and Further in!
This final scene? CRY ALL THE TEARS every single time.
There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are—as you used to call it in the Shadowlands—dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.” And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
Well, I think that’s enough gushing for now :). Do you have a favorite Aslan scene?