Puddleglum’s Declaration

Puddleglum quote

Although only 2 weeks, it has been a good rest. The longest time I have spent away from the blog in three years. It was a time of saying goodbye to our oldest child, a time of packing up summer, a time of not worrying about social media or reactions to posts on Communicating Across Boundaries, a time of recognizing I am moving into a new season.

I now move into a busy fall, a time where work pushes its demands, where the season changes from brilliant blues and greens to radiant Autumn golds and reds. It’s a new season at home as well. With changes in our family we are empty nesters and adjusting to the good and hard of a house that rattles and time that we didn’t previously have.

As I reflect I am sobered and humbled by all of life – but especially by the story that God is writing.  For it is a worldwide story of people and redemption, of restoration and rescue. The story God is writing is a story that goes from Pakistan to Syria; from Iraq to Germany; from Russia to Gaza; from Senegal to the United States; from North Pole to South Pole and all places between. Sometimes the story feels like it’s at a stand still, sometimes I hate the plot or I don’t understand it, sometimes all is calm and I read with encouragement and clarity. Sometimes I want to give it a 5-star rating and urge others to read it; still other times I want to rant and curse and give it a 1-star book review, begging others not to read it. But no matter what my feelings are about this story, it is always there, always moving forward, always being written. And at the end of each day, I thank God for this story.

A friend recently reminded me of Puddleglum. Puddleglum is a character in the Narnia series, specifically in The Silver Chair. Now Puddleglum is a complete pessimist. You know the kind – the one that when you say “It’s so beautiful out” they say “Yeah – but tomorrow it’s going to rain.” But Puddleglum shows his true character in one part of the story. At this part the green witch is trying to cast a spell on Puddleglum and some of his friends to make them forget Aslan and Narnia. She is throwing green powder on a fire, and Puddleglum? He stamps out the fire. Despite the pain of the flames, he stamps it out. And this is what he says:

“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 as I end this period of rest, this I know – no matter what black pit this world may seem, no matter how awful it gets, no matter where the story goes, I believe there is a story worth clinging to, worth trying to understand. And despite all my doubts, all the things that can go against my faith, all the horror and evil that exists – I believe there is something better on the other side. Along with Puddleglum I declare that even if there is no Narnia, I’m going to live like a Narnian. 

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Equator People in an Arctic World


I had to do it. Cliché as it may be – I have to write about the cold. About the polar vortex. About how all you see are frozen eyebrows peeking out of massive winter hats. About how everyone around you is bundled up so tight that we do the vortex waddle – that clumsy “I have too many clothes on but at least I am not freezing” waddle.

I have to write about how everyone is so cold they forget to be mean to each other – and how refreshing this is. About how even the homeless on these Boston streets are non-existent because the polar vortex has overtaken the most hardened and has them running to shelters. About how I almost slip on black ice, but I catch myself, and breathe a deep sigh of thanks in the sustaining grace of God. About hot water – and how I pray in my hot shower. How I pray that those who are cold will be warm, that those whose hearts are walls of ice, will feel the breath of the spirit melting the hard, cold wall into a warm puddle of vulnerability.

I have to describe the way we, a society of individuals who “do by self”, collectively walk with one purpose – that of making it to a place that is warm. We are resolute in our goal and we move as one down the city streets.

I read a story about a man in Kentucky who escaped from a minimum security prison, only to turn himself in as the temperature dropped and his prison khaki couldn’t sustain the cold. He walked into a motel and asked them to call the police – better to be in prison than out in this cold. This is what the cold is doing to people! When an escaped prisoner turns himself in you know it’s cold.

We are equator people in an arctic world. We are made for warmth and light, color and joy. But we walk in solemn black and grey, heads covered, eyes down, as though in mourning. The only conversation heard among people is “Stay warm” “How cold is it outside?” “How far did you have to walk in the cold?”

Equator people in an arctic world. Made in the image of God to know the love of God. Made to enjoy him forever, yet surrounded by ice that keeps our hearts cold to that love, unable to move past the arctic chill, that stubborn defense against all that is good, all that is holy.

But a polar vortex can’t last forever. Already the temperature is rising and the winds of warmth are coming. In the first book of the beloved series The Chronicles of Narnia we see equator people in an arctic world. Narnia is frozen under the spell of the white witch. All is cold and grey. Evil lurks in shadows and neighbor turns on neighbor. All of Narnia feels the oppression of the white witch and a world where it is “always winter but never Christmas.” But words of hope come that Aslan is on the move.

“They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps he has already landed,” [said Beaver]. And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different…. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”*

For equator people in an arctic world this is hope indeed. That Aslan is on the move. That warmth will come. “Heaven has cracked into this cold, dark world yet again – and nothing that collides with the holy can stay the same.” from Addie Zierman, “Stumbling into the New Year”

*C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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Fierce Love

Deutsch: Ein Löwe wird verwendet um Aslan darz...

I’m not sure when I first realized that my love for my children was a fierce love. Was it when I held my first-born and counted fingers and toes? Was it on the way to the emergency room cradling a 2-year-old with a gash over his left eye? Or was it when I watched one of them being excluded from a game or play time?  Whatever event or time it came over me that this was not a quiet, comfortable, sit down by the fire love. Rather, it was a fierce love characterized by strong emotion and equally strong action.

Maternal love is a fiercely protective love lest anyone hurt my children. It is a believing love – wanting to give the benefit of the doubt. It is a hunting down love – I will get you. I will hunt you down if you hurt my kid. My maternal love wants to be a building up love – hugging tightly even as a vice grips my heart at their hurt, wiping salty tears away and praying for the words to encourage and heal the wound. Maternal love is a fierce love.

And so when I read the words that describe God’s love I think I get it. From metaphors of labor pains, bears with cubs, and leopards I am given a picture of a fierce and female love that defends and protects, often at a great cost.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:3,4

In the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia  “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe“, before the four Pevensie children have met Aslan they talk with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about him. In the conversation Susan and Lucy find out Aslan is a Lion.

“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.”

Maternal love has never been just a comfortable, safe love. And no matter how much I may want to portray God’s love as comfortable and safe all the metaphors tell me it’s so much more. It’s a defending, all-encompassing, satisfying, nourishing, protecting and restoring love. Surely it’s a fierce love.

“It’s Not Your Story”

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?” 

“It was I.”

“But what for?”

“Child!” said the Voice “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own” 

“Who are you?” said 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 quietly you could hardly hear it, yet it seemed to come from all around you as if the leaves rustled with it.

This excerpt from the beloved children’s series the Chronicles of Narnia comes from “The Horse and His Boy“. Like all the books in the series this one combines a delightful story with truths that are understood by both adult and child. It is a story of talking horses, brave children, and a Lion that simultaneously protects and disturbs. The main human characters, Shasta and Aravis, share little in common other than their talking horses but in the course of the story grow to learn from, and love each other.

With the simple phrase “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own” I am convicted every time I say inside “But what about them? How come her? Why do they get that? Why does he have to go through all this?”

While the questions are different, they all have the same answer. It’s not my story. I may never know why the person had to go down the path that they did, I may feel the torture of envy when I hear of someones success and wish the success was part of my story, or the distress of pain about the journey of another. Either way – it’s not my story.

As I close out the week I am acutely aware of this. There are some stories that I would like to know more about; there are others that I look at wistfully, longing to be the main character of the events that are unfolding. The words “Child, I am telling you your story…” bring me back to a page on my journey and are a reminder that the story I am living is the only story I can ask about.