Lessons from Lucy and Aslan

Posted by on Jan 19, 2012 in Blog/Articles | 0 comments

     In C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, we observe a very tender relationship between little Lucy and the majestic, beautiful lion, Aslan, who is a sublime image of Christ in the series.  Anyone who has seen the films or read C.S. Lewis’ lovely children’s tales can gather that the youngest child of the four Pevensie children, Lucy, has a very special and intimate relationship with Aslan.  Why is this?  We see that the other Pevensie children clearly have their own attachments to him, yet the love they harbor in their hearts for him just does not seem as innocent as the ardently pure, child-like, and faithful love expressed by the little Lucy.

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy.  “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”

“I shall be telling you all the time,” said Aslan.  “But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river.  But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.” (C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)

Through the eyes of Lewis, her creator, we see especially in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe the childish simplicity of Lucy’s thought, and how this childishness, in some mystical way, makes her more apt to ask less questions than her siblings, and simply trust that everything will be alright if Aslan says it is so.  It is she, who is called upon to rally her siblings in Prince Caspian, to trust that Aslan would find a way through the dark.  It is only she who sees him at first, and she who trusts in him when he asks her to lead her siblings through that dark night to follow him.  Peter, Susan, and Edmund eventually see Aslan, but it is a test of faith for them in the beginning to follow Lucy, who claims to see him when they themselves do not.  This may make one reminiscent of Christ’s resurrection in the Gospels.  Mary Magdalene is the first to see Jesus.  She runs to tell His disciples, yet none of them initially believe:

When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.  (Mark 16:11)

“Look!  Look!  Look!” cried Lucy.
“Where?  What?” said everyone.
“The Lion,” said Lucy.  “Aslan himself.  Didn’t you see?”  Her face had changed completely and her eyes shone.
“Do you really mean–?” began Peter.
“Where did you think you saw him?” asked Susan.
“Don’t talk like a grown-up,” said Lucy, stamping her foot.  “I didn’t think I saw him.  I saw him.”
“Where, Lu?” asked Peter.
“Right up there between those mountain ashes.  No, this side of the gorge.  And up, not down.  Just the opposite of the way you want to go.  And he wanted us to go where he was – up there.”
“How do you know that was what he wanted?” asked Edmund.
“He – I – I just know,” said Lucy, “by his face.”
The others all looked at each other in puzzled silence.
“Her Majesty may well have seen a lion,” put in Trumpkin.  “There are lions in these woods, I’ve been told.  But it needn’t have been a friendly and talking lion any more than the bear was a friendly and talking bear.”
“Oh, don’t be so stupid,” said Lucy.  “Do you think I don’t know Aslan when I see him?” (C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian)

While angry because of their doubt, Lucy does not allow the pessimism, the skeptical nature of her comrades to shake her faith.  She perseveres, and Aslan eventually leads them all to the various purposes he has for each in helping Prince Caspian.

While I could certainly go more into depth here, this is only a brief contemplation of Lewis’ intent in the tender way in which he formed little Lucy to have such trust and great love for the beautiful lion.  With regret I inform that I have not the time to spare to make as grand an analysis of one of the most lovely relationships in the history of children’s literature, but this may just give a little glimpse of it:

But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

God loves the little things of the world.  The uninhibited trust in Him that we seek can be found in a simple, childish heart.  Several of the saints have reported that the closer they came to God, the simpler their hearts and their own lives had become.

Perhaps the journey into the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not as complicated as we all make it; perhaps we, at times, like to think of ourselves as “grown-ups”, like Susan.  In reality, we know that we are only acting.  Our hearts are severe, analytical things without love.

Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.” (Mark 9:36-37)

The heart-wrenching thing about life is the selfish way that so many of us react to being hurt.  We withdrawal and coil in our selfishness when we receive an emotional or physical blow from another and we oftentimes find ourselves hiding behind a veil of pride, which separates our hearts even more from God’s intended purpose for it: to be simple, humble, and childish.  I believe Lewis could convey this more eloquently than I:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”(C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves)

Lucy’s response to the unbelief and the persecution from her comrades is simple perseverance in childlike faith.  Does her response not echo that of Christ Who, when persecuted, stripped of the dignity, respect, and honor that He so deserved, simply perservered to Calvary, and little ways before the end, prayed: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”(Luke 23:34)

Our little ones truly are closer to God than we.   Unhampered by the worries we ‘grown-ups’ should not have, these little ones truly put us all to shame.  This is the beauty of the little child.

I will leave us with these divine little thoughts from our very own Clive Staples Lewis and one of G.K. Chesterton, who inspired his conversion to Christianity:

“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”(C.S. Lewis)

“A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.” (G.K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy)