Life in light of Loss

aslans country

Another of C.S. Lewis’ envisionings: the doorway to Aslan’s country, in his final Chronicle of Narnia, The Last Battle.

In The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis’ sixth Chronicle of Narnia, King Caspian (whom readers have followed and loved since he was a boy) dies a very old man.

Then Aslan stopped, and the children looked into the stream. And there, on the golden gravel of the bed of the stream, lay King Caspian, dead, with the water flowing over him like liquid glass. His long white beard swayed in it like water-weed. And all three stood and wept. Even the Lion wept: great Lion-tears, each tear more precious than the Earth would be if it was a single solid diamond.

“Son of Adam,” said Aslan, “go into that thicket and pluck the thorn that you will find there, and bring it to me.”

Eustace obeyed. The thorn was a foot long and sharp as a rapier.

“Drive it into my paw, Son of Adam,” said Aslan, holding up his right fore-paw and spreading out the great pad towards Eustace.

“Must I?” said Eustace.

“Yes,” said Aslan.

Then Eustace set his teeth and drove the thorn into the Lion’s pad. And there came out a great drop of blood, redder than all redness that you have ever seen or imagined.

And it splashed into the stream over the dead body of the King. At the same moment the doleful music stopped. And the dead King began to be changed. His white beard turned to grey, and from grey to yellow, and got shorter and vanished altogether; and his sunken cheeks grew round and fresh, and the wrinkles were smoothed, and his eyes opened, and his eyes and lips both laughed, and suddenly he leaped up and stood before them – a very young man, or a boy. And he rushed to Aslan and flung his arms as far as they would go round the huge neck; and he gave Aslan the strong kisses of a King, and Aslan gave him the wild kisses of a Lion.

At last Caspian turned to the others. He gave a great laugh of astonished joy.

It’s an stunningly beautiful scene, and one that engenders a great deal of hope for all of us who have lost loved ones and will in the future. We lost my grandmother at 85 years old this month, and in thinking about her, I have replayed this scene in my mind many times. I do not believe that she met her end, but a new beginning.

The loss of a close relative can’t help but raise a number of existential questions. But as it’s been one of those months — one of those summers actually, as I have a 2-year old to love and keep safe around the clock — rather than attempt to tackle any of those questions, I am going to continue to share with you a series of quotes that have comforted me, resonated with me, and encouraged me on my way as I have considered suffering and loss recently.

On how we are crucified with Christ.

“When we attach, when we fall in love, we risk pain and we will always suffer for it. The cross is not the price that Jesus *had* to pay to talk God into loving us. It is simply where love will lead us. Jesus names the agenda. If we love, if we give ourselves to feel the pain of the world, it will crucify us. (This understanding of the crucifixion is much better than thinking of Jesus as paying some debt to an alienated God, who needs to be talked into loving us.)” — Richard Rohr, Franciscan friar, priest and author, Everything Belongs.

On not fearing a false god.

“A god who is vengeful and vindictive toward those who “offend his honor” is a small, petty and insecure deity indeed. This petty, easily offended, minor league god has nothing to do with the Creator whom Jesus called Father. The petty thunderbolt hurling god is, in fact, a projection of human fear, insecurity, and rage. That and nothing more. Don’t fear that god.” — Brian Zahnd, senior pastor and founder of Word of Life church in St Joseph, Missouri.

On how to live my life today.

“So, as one who often walks this life while asleep and is most of the time caught up in the fury of my own ego, and entangled within all my insecurities, with my insatiable thirst to be noticed and affirmed by all, I say let’s just fade away, and just be. Let us live right here, right now, and let all these passions for attainment cease to be such a loud buzz in our ears. Let’s wake up, and rub this sleep from our eyes, and let us walk through this life fully awake.” Don Griffin, Facing the Darkness blog.

On sharing the fate of God for the life of the world: bearing the mystery of human death and resurrection.

“The following of Jesus is not a “salvation scheme” or a means of creating social order (which appears to be what most folks want religion for), as much as it is a vocation to share the fate of God for the life of the world. Jesus did not come to create a spiritual elite or an exclusionary system for people who “like” religion, but he invited people to “follow” him in bearing the mystery of human death and resurrection (an almost nonreligious task, but one that can be done only “through, with, and in” God).” — Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs.

Blessings on your journey. May you be comforted and have great hope.

— by Jeannine Buntrock



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