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Atlas

Puddleglum's awakening

Dinner with the Andrewses and Annette last night. Though it's hardly new, I'm repeatedly amazed at how much I forget (or have never dared to fully realize) about who I am and what I need. We talked about the need for our lives to be about something, the ways we continually settle for diversion instead, and how we are often living on milk when we are truly ready for and in need of meat.

As we talked and listened and prayed, I could feel the real me begin to awaken under the piles of junk I've been burying myself in—that these moments were somehow more and more real than whatever I've been doing with my life lately.

The experience reminded me of a passage in C.S. Lewis' The Silver Chair, in which the heroes are being enchanted by the Queen of the Underworld to believe that the world above was nothing but an imagining. Yet something stirs in one of them, a grasping at reality that shatters the spell:

"...Come, all of you. Put away these childish tricks. I have work for you all in the real world. There is no Narnia, no Overworld, no sky, no sun, no Aslan. And now, to bed all. And let us begin a wiser life tomorrow. But first, to bed; to sleep; deep sleep, soft pillows, sleep without foolish dreams."

The Prince and the two children were standing with their heads hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all gone from them; the enchantment almost complete. But Puddleglum, desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire. Then he did a very brave thing. He knew it wouldn't hurt him quite as much as it would hurt a human; for his feet (which were bare) were webbed and hard and cold-blooded like a duck's. But he knew it would hurt him badly enough; and so it did. With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth. And three things happened at once.

First, the sweet heavy smell grew very much less. For though the whole fire had not been put out, a good bit of it had, and what remained smelled very largely of burnt Marsh-wiggle, which is not at all an enchanting smell. This instantly made everyone's brain far clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.

Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, "What are you doing? Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I'll turn the blood to fire inside your veins."

Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum's head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.

"One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. 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 live as like a Narnian as long as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."


The enchantment of this world is tough for me to shake, and I need fellows like these more often in order to do so. I need meat as well as milk, and I need others at the table with me.

Comments

That's prolly my favorite part of the Chronicles. I went on a month long training retreat that was ridiculously awesome, and on the last day, the director read that part to us and reminded us that this retreat is the real world that God intended, not the broken world we live in. Very powerful stuff.

Anthony
1. Fabulous icon.
2. Love the smell of burnt marsh-wiggle in the morning.
3. Steak? :o]
Steak sounds good.
Man, I've forgotten what a great bit of writing the Chronicles are. That needs to go on my list to re-read.
I like Iona too.
There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.

Jessica and I were just talking last night about how awsome and awful it is to be in this community we're in. There's something about sharing heart ache and joy (and annoyance and need) that awakens (at least me) from too much cloudy, sleepy living.

We both want to come and visit you (or if you could get up here, I have a few free tickets for December).

Love the new layout...

and today's entry reminded me of this one, so long ago...I am again grateful for your virutal acquaintance :-). At least we have that sweet inveterate knowledge of the most genuine selves we will be one day - in that one place, the most real we will ever know (sounds cheesy, but true).
I like this layout also, Lee. Very blogish. I might cop it. I'm forever changing mine.
Oddly, the style is named "Bloggish" in the S2 Style system (once you've switched to it, it's in the Customizations, entitled "Beckett").
Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum's head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.

That's an excellent reminder regarding pain and stress and difficult circumstances-- it seems that they can make us hyperaware of God's presence and hyperaware of our dependence on Him, vs. the rest of the time when we're wandering around half asleep.

Thanks for this.