And I turned to you and I said
No guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the father in the garden
Van Morrison: The Garden
I have read the Narnia Chronicles by C.S.Lewis several times. They speak at so many levels so I enjoyed them when I first came across them when I was eight and I enjoy them now. And there are so many memorable moments.
One of my particular favourites, and for me, one of the most profound comes in ‘The Last Battle’. Emeth finds himself standing before Aslam, the mighty Lion, whom he has been raised to fear and loath as a foreign god. Aslam speaks:
“Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me…I take to me the service which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kind that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none that is not vile can be done to him. Therefore, if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake it is by me he has truly sworn, though he knows it not, and it is I who reward him.
Here Lewis has captured the essence of knowing God (I use the name God accepting that others use a differing title for the supreme or ultimate entity), the God who transverses the various religions of the world, and refuses to be contained by the teachings of these religions.
It’s about something that happens inside of us, something basic and primeval that surpasses religion and reaches towards a knowing of and a relationship with God. As the Bible tells us: “Deep calls to deep”. It’s about our response to that call and how we choose to know God. Not in a religious sense as revealed in teachings, defined by rules and regulations but in a deep life empowering way, being touched in our minds, our emotions and our spirits by the force that underlies all existence. A whole person response. And our response to that knowledge, can allow us to achieve our highest good and best possible version of ourselves.
We all start with a conscience which Milton described as God’s umpire. This means we all possess a knowing of what is correct. Again, not correct as defined in religions, although we would all agree that there are universal truths revealed in religions which are necessary for the upholding of society. Rather, correct in every moment of our lives (and I think I would substitute ‘natural’ for ‘correct’ because correct brings us back to that sense of rules).
I grew in religious settings that told me about God, initially instilling a sense of wonder, but gave me no experience. They spoke of power but there was none. After a while the wonder died. But the need to make the journey became stronger. So when U2 lament that they “still haven’t found what their looking for” I can empathise. Yet the journey is begun. Will Bono be there when I arrive?
Returning to The Narnia Chronicles, I heard of a father who, after reading his daughter The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was unable to find her. He eventually found her sitting at the back of her wardrobe*. When he asked her why she was there she replied she was waiting for the magic to begin. I wonder how many people are out there waiting for the magic to begin?
* For those who haven’t read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the entrance to the land of Narnia is through the back of the children’s wardrobe and after that the magic begins.