This year’s Wednesday evening Lenten series has been focused around C.S. Lewis’s classic book for children, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We’ve been calling it “Through the Wardrobe into Lent,” and for much of the series it has taken the shape of a slightly over-sized book club. What follows here is a bit of an extended reflection from one of our members, focussing on the character of Edmund.
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“And Edmund, for the first time in this story felt sorry for someone besides himself…. Soon Edmund noticed that the snow which splashed against them … was much wetter ….. At the same time he noticed it was much less cold.”
They have been travelling for hours through the cold. All his plans have backfired. All his dreams of glory given by the White Witch have been shown as lies.
And now, Edmund – the betrayer, the spiteful liar, the vocal skeptic – sees hope in the form of a Christmas feast, and hears the Witch disparage the self-indulgence of such merriment. When the small squirrel dares to stick up for the gift from Father Christmas she silences the feast, turning them all to stone.
Edmund is powerless to stop her. He reaches the place where he can no longer deny what he has always known — the witch has no good will to offer any creature. His heart is touched by the need of another and his eyes begin to see.
It is after this event, in the context of Edmund’s story that the “thaw”, the lessening of the witch’s power over the land begins to show the signs of spring.
Why Edmund? Edmund had failed to measure up to the situation. It doesn’t matter what any of the others did or didn’t do to him, he is the one who kept choosing to accept the witch’s power. Edmund is the antihero who had let everyone down, even, it turns out, himself. When the beauty of the new spring emerges, shouldn’t we see it through the eyes of those who have been faithful? Why Edmund?
Leave the Edmunds of our lives stumbling and slipping in the muck of the change! He made the choices that got him there, let him deal with it on his own. Why Edmund? Let him be expendable! Aslan would still be living. Aslan is powerful enough to bring the spring! Isn’t that enough? Just think of the grief that could be bypassed if we could write Edmund out of the story!
Too often that is the way we view our own lives. Those places we deem as failures to measure up to the code of our faith, those antihero moments should be shut away, their storyline cut off so that we can speak of the glorious victory we have in Jesus. If we speak of them as all, they should be derogated with blame, not surrounding by the sounds and sights and scents of a burgeoning spring!
Why Edmund? Why the “unloveable” or “disfuntional” parts that I have labelled and hidden over and over? So much energy is needed to hide the “unworthy” in my life if I am going to be able to even consider any chance of believing I can be the child of a King!
Why Edmund? Because shaming ourselves in the guise of repentances accomplishes nothing. Until the Edmunds in my life can stand with the rest of me before my Aslan, my God, I will never be the complete person God meant me to be. I will never know the truth as long as I am hiding parts of me to appear worthy, I will never know the abundance of spring in my life until all of me has been freed to walk in the light of the One who already knows me and wants to make a miracle out of my life.
It has been the work of years learning that God’s love is not only for those parts deemed lovely or worthy in the eyes of the Christian community, or even in my own eyes. I am God’s creation. I can’t be all I am meant to be if I banish parts of myself or imprison them so they won’t cause further damage.
Only as the whole of who I am can there come the end the reign of the powers that call me unworthy, that keep me from knowing what is “abundant life”. Only by standing in the wholeness of the one I am can I truly come to know “the truth” meant to set me free.
I think I am finally beginning to see.