Saturday, January 15, 2022

Gwendolen's Encounter with Aslan

Back in the day when the Internet was still rather young and I occasionally found myself in need of an alias (say, perhaps, when posting my reviews of the film adaptations at Narniaweb), I would use the name Gwendolen. Being that this was the height of my Narnia enthusiasm, I took the name from a random side character in Prince Caspian. That is, Gwendolen is even less than a side character. She is hardly even enough of a character to warrant being named: she only takes up about a page of text, depending on what format you're reading. 

I just chose her name for the random and obscure Narnia connection. Looking back at the Gwendolen passage, though, I find that I do identify with her story and the deeper thematic elements at play.

I was still just young enough back then that I imagined being cast in the role in the movie and delivering Gwendolen's two lines. Towards the end of the book, when Aslan is traveling with Bacchus and the Pevensie sisters and freeing Narnia from the Telmarines, he encounters Gwendolen at a school. She isn't paying attention to the teacher because she sees a lion outside. After transforming the school into a mass of ivy, Aslan invites Gwendolen to join them; he calls her sweetheart. "'Oh, may I?'" is her response. 

Gwendolen is overjoyed at being allowed into and invited into this company. Aslan speaks to her personally and singles her out with affection. If Aslan is the Jesus figure of Narnia, then this is Jesus in his earthly ministry, walking among the people and talking to them and freeing them. They are invited into the wild joy that only communion with him can bring. In particular, Gwendolen reminds me of the girl he saves from death in Mark 5 (likewise, the teacher in the next passage reminds me of the woman with the issue of blood in Mark, but that's another story). He says that the girl is sleeping and awakens her by saying, ""Little girl, I say to you, arise.'" (Mark 5: 41 NKJV). The use of "little girl" and "sweetheart" are similar in their affection. Gwendolen is told to come, and the girl is told to rise and eat. Again, very similar. 

Jesus comes breaking chains, giving new life, and inviting us in to a new company--his company. Our, "May I come in?" is met with a bold and yet also joyous, "Come." We are invited right into the middle of his plans and right into the center of his heart. Personally and affectionately. The question as we enter this new year 2022 is whether or not I still believe I am invited in. I've grown rather used to existing on the fringes, on the outside--when I was Gwendolen accepting the invitation to run with the company I think I just took the most invisible space possible hoping not to be a bother. But that isn't entirely consistent with the personal and affectionate invitation to come, is it? I guess I tend to forget my own story, don't I?

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