A few autumns ago, the Gold Gathering group and I were hiking through the splendor of the Colorado Mountains when, on Jonalyn's cue, we stopped walking, ceased our talking and listened. I hardly dared to breath, straining to hear what she heard. A few seconds passed and then I discerned the far-off, almost imperceptible burbling of a brook. It was the last of winter's melted snow winding its way down the mountain. As we stood and wondered at the tinkling music of melted ice, I thought of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which it is always winter but never Christmas.
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the wicked White Witch has cast a wintery enchantment across the land of Narnia. For centuries snow suffocates the once-living land, and fierce, freezing winds send living creatures scurrying into hiding. Fauns, beavers, wood nymphs and dwarves ache to escape the icy jowls of winter, or to at least have freedom to celebrate Christmas. Oh, to have a reason to celebrate the towering snow-covered pines and knolls frosted with fresh powder!
And then, one glorious day, the fierce whip of icy wind and silence of falling snow are replaced with the sound of far-off liquid laughter. Icicles begin to shrink and wink in the sun's warm light. Droplets cascade down snow-burdened boughs like tears of thanksgiving.
The White Witch sees the changes to the world she’s kept a wintery prison and shudders. But good Mr. Beaver lifts his head, and joyfully announces to his friends, “Aslan is on the move.”
Aslan, the great Lion, is the rightful king of Narnia. For centuries Narnia’s inhabits have waited for him to come and banish winter. And now, he’s prowling the land, melting ice and snow so the land can live again, and freeing Narnia’s inhabitants from the Witch’s rule.
The highest of High Kings may be called Aslan in Narnia, but here we call him Immanuel, God with us. We called him that 2,000 years ago when he came to live among us, die for us, and rise again to show us that winter's death will not have the last word. Two thousand years later we continue to call him Immanuel. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is not sitting somewhere far off watching his followers sweat, heave, and weep as we struggle to love him and live well. He is in us, among us, fighting for us. He is on the move.
Over the years I have come to know well the cold darkness of winter. And so I have begun to learn to listen close for far-off gurgles of melting snow — for sounds of life in a wintery world. My listening begins with asking Immanuel to show me what He is currently doing, unseen, for his glory and my good. He always shows me.
He shifts my attention from the darkness of winter to the tart zing of fresh cherries and the warmth of the sunlight falling through the window. He shows me that the recently reduced medical bill and the discount at the doctor are signs he’s on the move, working for my good. He reminds me that the Facebook message from a long-lost friend, the cookies fresh from a neighbor’s oven, and the belly laugh I had with the grocery clerk are signs of unexpected life sprouting.
But even as I learn to listen for sounds of spring, there are days when it seems like spring cannot be found. There are weeks when all I can see is icy gray. There are seasons when all I can hear is my heart creaking from the weight of the snow. During these seasons I am learning to hope, for my heart’s loud groaning is not a sign of its imminent wintery death. Groaning is the sound of ice that thaws: my heart's gradual softening, in spite of suffering, yet another sign of Aslan on the move.
Image credits: www.snowbombing.com; farm3.staticflickr.com
© by scj