08 December 2016
Where sky and water meet,
Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter East.
-Voyage of the Dawn Treader
I can feel the wind blowing my hair. The picture on the wall has come to life and the ship in the frame is heading straight toward me. Only magic could be at work here, as splashes of water strike my face. Suddenly, the picture frame increases and overtakes the room, swallowing it, and me, into the watery scene of ship and sail.
We are back in Narnia, of course, and that is the scene at the beginning of the book, and what happens to Edmund, Lucy, and their cousin Eustace as the magic of Narnia brings them into that world. It is such a wonder-filled scene, which brings to mind the scenes in Lilith, by George MacDonald, and how Mr. Vain travels into the land of seven dimensions. It is through a picture frame: the landscape moves and increases as he moves closer to the picture, which eventually becomes the new reality.
C.S. Lewis was an enormous fan of George MacDonald, and these little glimpses extracted and knowing the links is delightful to me. The more obvious links this book contains is to The Odyssey by Homer. It is, indeed, a voyage to several different islands, and in each place certain trials and tests await them all, with some magic lingering in the air. The places they visit are dooming to some, and growth opportunities to others.
Eustace, for example, is the most annoying young man. He grumbles, complains, makes fun of everyone, and runs away from the crew when they land ashore so he doesn't have to help them with various chores. His greedy nature leads to a transformation into a dragon. He must shed his scales of bad choices in a painful way, but he comes out the other side a new person, lead by the mysterious lion, Aslan.
One of my favourite scenes is when Lucy reads from the magician's book upstairs in the library on one of the islands. It is the loveliest story she has ever read, but she cannot re-live reading it again.The pages only move forward in one direction, and she cannot go back to read it again. Such is the way of our life. It is read in one direction and we cannot re-live moments again, but should be immersed in each day, with attention intentionally given to all that touches our hearts in the everyday.