Street Level Faith

by Rev. Ione Grover Who is a retired United Church minister living in St. Marys
by Rev. Ione Grover
Who is a retired United Church minister living in St. Marys

Last Saturday I went to see “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” with my son, his wife, a friend and my two granddaughters. For me, the highlight of the play was that moment, when Aslan, an enormous lion came on stage. He took my breath away. The expression on his face was one of deep sorrow combined with compassion and wisdom. Whoever designed the lion mask must be truly talented. It is well known that the author, C.S. Lewis, intended Aslan to represent the Christ figure. The scene that followed depicted a kind of crucifixion and resurrection scene in which the forces of evil symbolized by the wicked witch were finally overcome by the forces of good as embodied in Aslan.

This fanciful children’s story has much symbolism in it and can be enjoyed on many different levels. I think for many children, Aslan would symbolize a wise mentor figure, a hero that upholds justice and stands up against evil. For me, he signifies a Christ consciousness, which I see as a Universal divine consciousness, not related to any particular religion. I suspect that C.S. Lewis probably intended a more traditional interpretation of the Christ figure. Although I am familiar with the play, I found myself seeing it in a very different way than I ever have before – more from the perspective of our contemporary situation today.

Narnia, where the action took place, is a land peopled by talking animals. To me, this made it a more powerful story. If animals could speak, what would they say to us? Would Aslan gaze at us with his sad eyes and ask us why we have hunted and killed off many species of animals, rendering them extinct? The wicked witch turned Narnia into a place of perpetual winter. Modern industrialization has poisoned our water and food and created climate change which has gravely affected our natural habitat. It would be convenient if we could blame all this on a wicked witch. Unfortunately, the only wicked witch we can blame is ourselves – collectively, we have all been a part of compromising our environment for our own convenience and consumption. In the story, three of the children link forces with Aslan on the side of good and the fourth becomes a betrayer who is taken in by the wicked witch. Yet the betrayer is forgiven and reconciled to his siblings. What a positive message that is! Is there any one of us who have not some time betrayed ourselves or others?

We humans tend to see the world as a fight between good and evil forces. There are good guys and bad guys, us and them. It is rarely that simple. Like Narnia, with its perpetual winter, I think that the world is in a serious crisis, one that has developed over a long history of human conflict, violence, divisiveness and greed. Albert Einstein wisely said that a problem cannot be solved with the same energy that created the problem in the first place. There is another energy, Divine consciousness, as depicted by Aslan, which is within the capacity of each one of us to seek. In order to receive this Divine energy, we need first to be humble enough, like the children in the play, to know that our own powers are not enough to solve our problems. When we recognize this, we then can ask for and surrender to Divine direction. If it were that simple, we would have solved the world’s problems a long time ago. The missing link in all this is that in our human arrogance, we don’t recognize our need for Divine Wisdom.

May we humble ourselves to seek a higher consciousness in all things!

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