I’ve been reading the Chronicles of Narnia aloud again this spring to Ben and Simon at bedtime. Since this is Ben’s second listen through, he requested that we read them in the order in which the events occur (the new order) instead of the order in which they were written which is how I always remember them. We can always count on Ben to shake things up a bit.
I’m always amazed at how these stories are new to me with each reading. I have long loved the exchange between Lucy and Aslan in Prince Caspian. I love when he tells her that Things never happen the same way twice, and that she has to trust him even if it means standing all alone, but that she won’t really ever be alone because He is with her. This part of the story is comfort food from my childhood.
But somehow Susan, whom as I child I considered rather a dull character, stood out to me in this reading. Perhaps it is because Susan carries on herself the role of mother, nurturer and protector that I found her tiresome practicality familiar. She is unnecessarily burdened and worried.
There is a scene between her and Aslan that I have come back to in my mind over and over again in the past two weeks.
Like the other siblings, Susan doesn’t believe Lucy when she says she has seen Aslan. But Susan takes her unbelief the farthest. She is the last to follow Lucy, begrudgingly. And consequently, she is also the last of the four to finally see Aslan.
And when she does, she says to Lucy,
‘I’ve been far worse than you know. I really believed it was him–he, I mean–yesterday. When he warned us not to go down to the fir-wood. And I really believed it was him tonight, when you woke us up. I mean, deep down inside. Or I could have, if I’d let myself. But I just wanted to get out of the woods and–and–oh, I don’t know. And what ever am I to say to him?’
‘Perhaps you won’t need to say much,’ suggested Lucy.
Lucy turns out to be right. When Aslan turns to Susan, he says her name, which makes her cry, but then he says,
‘You have listened to fears, child. Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?’
I think Aslan longed for Susan to believe because it would have been the best for her if she had, but he doesn’t shame her. He doesn’t even express disappointment. He just reminds her gently of who he is. He tells her to forget her fears.
Come, let me breathe on you.
I have brought that simple sentence to mind over and over again. In walking, in yoga, in prayer. I have held tightly to the truth that I believe C. S. Lewis so brilliantly brings to light:
that in the presence of God, all our fears are washed away.
Are you brave again?
I keep asking myself that question. I am like Susan. I know a lot of truth deep down in my heart, if I will just let myself believe it. I could let go of so many of the worries and heartaches that I unnecessarily hold onto.
My answer often echoes Susan’s response to Aslan. She says,
A little, Aslan.
A little more brave again. The wonderful thing about Aslan is that a little turns out to be just enough.