Come Further In
There’s a part, early in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the children have made their way into Narnia and they are walking through the woods when they hear a quiet, beaver voice: Come further in.
Until this moment, they are alone in the woods. Lucy, at least, knows that the woods are full of spies (even some of the tree are on her side).
Come further in, says the beaver. There is no way of knowing if he will be a friend.
It’s cold in my corner of the world, just now. I’m already done with the freezing, the ice and the snow, though we haven’t had much of any of them yet.
I can talk about the winter of the soul, I suppose, or about the seasons as a mirror to the way life sometimes goes, but I keep coming back to the reality of Advent: happening in the Middle East, coming to an end sometime in the balmy spring.
My stiff fingers are not part of a beautiful Advent metaphor. My frozen temperatures don’t make my celebration of the season less poignant, or meaningful.
Or so I think.
Then, I remember: Narnia.
It’s likely a familiar story to most of you. Aslan has been away too long, the White Witch has spread a frosty curse over the land and it is only the hope in a prophecy that keeps the true Narnians going.
Always winter and never Christmas.
I can feel the whipping wind, my feet in the snow drifts, and the warm embrace of a borrowed fur coat from the wardrobe, as I read this book, once again.
If anything, this makes me feel justified in my dislike of this weather.
It’s all an evil curse.
Come further in, the beaver says. He hardly says a word at first, but I follow him. No other options are presenting themselves.
It is only later, in a warm house, sharing food and drink, that I begin to see. The curse has a cure, it is coming.
Aslan is on the move.
Metaphors are imperfect by their very nature. They are something trying to describe something else, something that they are not, something that they are like.
I identify with metaphor. As a writer, I spend my life trying to describe something else, something that I am not, often, something that I am like.
In this wonderful book, written for children, I am living in a metaphor for Advent.
My loathing for snow grows.
But though I’ve read this book over and over again, still, as I accept the invitation it offers and draw nearer, I see something new.
I’ve always identified with Lucy. She is curious and innocent, she believes right away, she makes friends easily, and can see what others can’t.
I still identify with her, of course, but there’s another character I’m recognizing in myself: the White Witch.
I am told that she is beautiful and powerful, I see that she is manipulative and harsh. But there is something about freezing something over: it doesn’t move, it doesn’t change, it doesn’t grow. How often have I thought that I would like to freeze a moment in time forever? How often have the hurtful things in my life overwhelmed me, and instead of going further in, I’ve numbed those thoughts and feelings in the cold until I can no longer feel them?
I have used the weaknesses of others against them, waving Turkish Delight in their faces and telling them that I will give them rooms of it, if only they will be my prince, or my friend.
I have surrounded my house with enough ice and inanimate statues to keep almost everyone away.
I am not the Witch, but the Witch is in me. Her voice is gentle and soothing, at first, until the ice begins to melt and her illusions of control dissipate. Then she screams, she pushes her sledge through the mud until she can’t move that way any longer. When that fails, she begins to walk, still wrapped in her heavy coat, as the air warms around her.
But Aslan is on the move, and the Witch’s power is weakening.
Perhaps the season of Advent ends with spring, after all.