Monday, April 09, 2007

Lewis and Aesop

Because it ended up being a sick day (I'm not feeling too well myself; hope I'm not coming down with this!) the sweet girl and I ended up doing a lot of cuddling and reading today. At dinner we read a few of Aesop's Fables and I found myself struck by major, and I mean major, Lewisian echoes in two of the earlier stories.

The first one was "The Donkey in the Lion's Skin" (with the moral "Clothes may disguise a fool until he opens his mouth.") I immediately thought of poor Puzzle, who dresses up and pretends to be Aslan at the instigation of Shift in The Last Battle, the seventh and final of the Chronicles of Narnia.

An even deeper echo for me was in the very next fable, "The Hunter and the Woodsman" (moral: "A hero must be brave in deed as well as in word.")

"'Pray tell me,' the Hunter said to the Woodsman, 'have you seen the marks of the Lion's footsteps? Or perhaps you can tell me where his den is?'

'I will do better than tell you,' the Woodsman replied courteously. 'I will take you right to him.'

The Hunter turned pale. His teeth began to chatter. 'N-o thank you,' he said. 'I did not ask for that! It is only his tracks that I am in search of, not the Lion himself.'"

I thought of these words from Lewis in his book Miracles:

"An 'impersonal God' -- well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads -- better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap -- best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband -- that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion ('Man's search for God!') suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?"

And of course I thought of Aslan, whose heavy, majestic tread can inspire fear and awe in hearts, and also quiet those fears...those strong yet velveted paws, coming ever nearer. It's a dreadful thing to come face to face with the Lion. And yet it's also the best, safest, most beautiful place for us to be.


Erin said...

You're right, definitely very Lewisian. It's such a marvelous moment when the four children hear Aslan's name for the first time, and then see him for the first time, each reacting to him a little differently. He may not be safe, but he's definitely good!

Beth said...

Yes! I love that moment in the books, so was a bit distressed when the movie didn't really "do it up properly" (as a British friend of mine used to say years ago). ;-) Not safe, but good...that says so much, so simply and so wisely!