Me & Jack on the Edge of the World

Photo by Rebecca Fullan

Photo by Rebecca Fullan

By: Rebecca Fullan

When I was seven, my mom gave me The Chronicles of Narnia. Legend has it that she intended to parcel them out one holiday at a time, but I read them so voraciously that she gave them all over a week.

To say these books were a revelation to me is to understate the case. Narnia impressed itself upon my mental and psychic landscapes with deep-cutting permanence.

This is how C.S. Lewis—Jack, to his friends—became mine. He gave me the most persistent metaphors— for example, when encountering painful transformation I still think of dragon-skin being scratched off, and in college I named my pet lizard Eustace.

Theologically, the books were clear and joyful to me. I adored Aslan. I patterned myself after Lucy, always running to touch him and press her face against his mane.

And the only image of Hell I could begin to understand I found in The Last Battle, with the dwarves presented a feast and seeing swill and waste-water.

Recently, I read Mere Christianity for the first time, and found a baffling combination of comfort and stings. I know—he might say this is what it is to encounter Christianity.

Here’s what I found—aside from the page of marginally written argument I supplied against his claims about wives obeying their husbands—Jack believes in a world, and a God, with the most definite-yet-mysterious shape. Our gift, our responsibility, is to suss out that shape as best we can and conform to it.

But I have felt the world shifting, and I’m not always clear about that definitive shapeliness of God these days. Sometimes I fear my own favorite images, feel them blowing and slipping away. I walk the line between worshipping an image I have created (and I am quite the creative creature), and flinging my love out into an impenetrable mystery.

I hope somewhere in between there will always be a Lion’s face. I hope at the end of things I can laugh with my friend Jack, about how we each saw bits of the story, and loved what we saw and did not see. But for now I am reaching for a novelty I do not understand. I am moving toward the edge of the world. Let us hope I am a brave enough mouse.

Rebecca Fullan still checks the backs of wardrobes, looks at lampposts with hope, and desires a God with velveted paws, but she no longer imagines that Turkish Delight tastes like turkey.

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2 Responses

  1. Wow. Our struggles can bring us to feel closer to God but let us not forget we are close to God or rather God is close to us even as we struggle and do not feel the Presence and are in desert times. I pray and trust that your journey will have times when you can coast as well as struggle. Even in the times when the dargon skin is being scratched off, please remember to take some sacred time each day and press your face in Aslan’s mane.

  2. What lovely prose flows from within which couches moods, musings, and deep thought to make it oh so accessible to the reader. I do not claim to know of the books that you reference. Had you used film analogies of Bogart, Bacall and Claude Raines, I would have understood more clearly.

    But what I do get from your writings are a sense of peace that while the journey is still a jaunt in progress,the sense of wonder that you felt in your not so distant youth is still there. Yes, it is a challenge. Yes, there will be twists and turns even one as creative as you could not imagine. And yes the swirls of uncertainty will shroud complete understanding sometimes even until hindsight sets in.

    But Rebecca, the journey is so worth the effort. To quote Dr. Suess, “oh, the places you’ll go.” And what better companion on a journey of discovery than God.

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