It’s a remarkable joy of parenthood to see one’s reflection in the lives of your children. Whether it’s a common habit, a shared outlook on life or similar ways to work out problems, it’s always great to see a little bit of myself in my children.
I was in that frame of mind when I watched The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe last week. To my surprise, I saw some of myself in the Pevensie children as well.
On the surface, Wardrobe is a fanciful tale, full of magical creatures, breathtaking events and grand themes. Underneath, it’s a personal journey of faith that calls for the belief in others and one’s own abilities in order to win the victory at the end.
It starts in London during the German bombings of World War II. Like other children of that time, Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter Pevensie are sent to live in the large country manor of the Professor (also known as Digory in the Narnia chronicle The Magician’s Nephew).
In that house, safe and bored, the children stumble upon the entrance to the realm of Narnia, a world under the spell of eternal winter by the evil White Witch.
But with the arrival of the two “sons of Adam” and the two “daughters of Eve,” Narnia begins to believe that an ancient prophecy may be fulfilled. Once we hear that “Aslan is on the move,” the witch’s powers start to weaken. Father Christmas arrives, the frozen waterfall melts, and springtime returns to the land. This good weather sets the stage for the “winner takes all” battle between good and evil.
The action sequences, battle scenes and computer-generated images are superb, but it’s the struggles of the four children and Aslan that really make this a deeply personal and spiritual film.
I know that each time I watch this film, I will see myself in each of the Pevensie children, such as …
Edmund, who feels oppressed by his older brother. In order to feel better about himself, he belittles his younger sister. But it’s not right to make someone else feel small just so you can feel big. Jealousy and revenge are true human emotions, ones that I pray for the strength to overcome. Father, help me to encourage and to love …
Like Susan, the sensible older sister who provides a voice of reason during their adventures. She openly cares for her brothers and sister, yet is faced with her own trials. To face these head on, she practices her archery and encourages Lucy to practice her dagger throwing (to hilarious results!) Susan hones her own abilities to their fullest in order to help others. Father, help me to use my own talents to encourage others and lift them up to new heights …
Like Peter, the oldest in his family, who must care for his siblings in their parents’ absence. When Peter proves he can protect his siblings by defeating the evil wolf Maugrim, he gains confidence in his abilities. Through his bravery and ingenuity, they survive the dangerous trip down the icy river and arrive safely at Aslan’s camp. There he is shown Cair Paravel, where he and his siblings are destined to rule, just as we are destined to sit by God’s side in heaven. Father, help me to accept the responsibilities laid before me and glorify you in all that I do in this world. There is so much on this earth to enjoy and love …
Like Lucy does in Narnia. Her sweet innocent smile of wonderment lights up when she steps into Narnia, seeing the beauty of Narnia despite the evil spell of winter. I want to be more like Lucy and see our world with brand new wonderment and beauty. Father, help me to see all life through the true eyes of a child, unfiltered by the lenses of ambition, greed, materialism and politics.
But of all the characters in Narnia, I wish to be more like Aslan. A soft-spoken creature who could be a mighty, terrible force when necessary, Aslan understands what it means to sacrifice one’s life for others.
When Aslan discovers that the White Witch can rightfully claim Edmunds’ life because of his betrayal, Aslan decides to take Edmund’s place. Surrounded by evil nipping at his heels, Aslan slowly climbs the altar steps. He allows others to deface and berate him, silently letting the evil have its way. For Aslan knows that his sacrifice will not only atone for Edmund’s sins, but will also bring forth a powerful army to defeat the White Witch.
That is what Jesus Christ did for us when he died on the cross for our sins, even though he was blameless. Now his death and his resurrection have produced an army of believers who can defeat the evil in this world. If I can be more like Aslan and sacrifice my life for others, then my life can also help defeat the evil in this world.
Father, with your love as my sword and my shield, I proclaim my love for you and charge into the battle – for Aslan, for Narnia, for You and the people of this world.
First published in the December 27, 2005 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© Christopher Fenoglio.