LEWIS/ To Narnia and the north: journeying with a Presence
Currently I am reading through C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia with my seven year-old son. Not having been raised in any sort of orthodox Christian milieu,, this is my first time reading through the Chronicles in their wonderful entirety. Of course, I have seen the films, which strike me as good adaptations of Lewis' book, but as a lifelong reader, watching the movie is never sufficient. Right now we are finishing A Horse and His Boy. I am grateful to enter these tales at 47. It is a grace and a blessing, even if it results in blog posts that may leave some readers saying "Duh!" out loud.
So far, I think the figure of Aslan is most profound in A Horse and His Boy. Last evening we read about Shasta's experience, which occurred after he, Aravis, Bree, and Hwin all escaped Tashbaan and began heading in earnest towards Narnia and the north. The malevolent Prince Rabadash of Tashbaan and his small army are right their heels. After rescuing Aravis and Hwin from the attack of a lion (an attack that left Aravis wounded and bleeding and Bree- the proud warhorse- ashamed for running away) and leading them safely to the refuge of the hermit, Shasta is urged by the hermit to proceed further into Archenland to warn the king about the imminent attack of Rabadash and his army. Before he makes it to Anvard, the capital of Archenland, Shasta encounters King Lune, who is hunting with a party of Archenland nobility. He warns the king, is given a horse, and proceeds on with the party to Anvard. Not being much of a horseman, Shasta falls behind and becomes lost. He comes to a fork in the road and does not know which road to take. Hearing the approach of Rabadash and his army, the boy hides. Seeing which way the invading army went, Shasta chooses the other way, figuring it was safest, that "all roads lead somewhere," and with the knowledge he had done his duty warning the ruler of Archenland about the impending attack.
Knowing he is lost, Shasta becomes distraught and starts feeling sorry for himself, until he senses the presence of something large and imposing beside him. After a few moments of terror, Shasta speaks to the presence. After a brief exchange, the one present to the poor boy says, "Tell me your sorrows." Shasta quickly recounts all of his misfortunes since running away from the poor fisherman who raised him without much love. In response to Shasta's conclusion that he is most unfortunate, the presence says, "I do not call you unfortunate." Replying to Shasta's complaint that several times during his journey he was beset by lions, the presence tells the boy, "There was only one lion." At this point, if there was any doubt to the reader of the Chronicles, it is Aslan who walks beside Shasta. The boy asks, "How do you know [there was only one lion]?" Aslan replies, "I was the lion."