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A Bit of Mystery

"They say Aslan is on the move - perhaps has already landed,' said Mr. Beaver.

"And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning - either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside."

- From C. S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

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The magic and mystery of the world has all but drained out these days as the world has becoming frighteningly factual. News headlines that dominate our televisions and computers are dedicated to the most scientific of facts: numbers and figures of financial predictions, the ongoing chatter about gasoline going north of $4, the visual reality of war and upheaval again in the Middle East, and the ongoing uncertainty about the all too potent power of nuclear energy. In this internet age, we know so much. Information leaks. Google has now mapped the entire world, all but eliminating the possibility of yetis and trolls and goblins and "Nessie." We have begun to peek into the deep recesses of space, and although bright and beautiful in places there are still no obvious signs of life. Our cameras and telescopes have peered into the dark and hidden places of the world and have made known what was once unknown.

The New Yorker recently published an article about some new oil drilling projects tapping into the earth of North Dakota. The crews are going down almost four miles to tap into the dark pools of crude that have become such a vital life-line for our modern way of living. In the article itself, one man who is overseeing the project begins to talk about how far the engineering techniques have come and how accurate their drilling can be. As he tells the reporter, a good drill operator can put that line all the way down those four miles and - if there were a home buried deep in that stone - could "put it through the front door and take it out the back door." Such precision is a marvel in itself, but a human marvel.

This coming Saturday at 1:00 pm in our church sanctuary, we're going to watch the Hollywood version of C. S. Lewis' classic children's tale, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Knowing we would be watching the movie, I've taken the chance to read the book again as well, to dust off the old copy that I hadn't read since my jr. high years. And what has struck me more than anything else reading this tale as an adult is how it infuses the possibility of mystery again - a wonderful kind of mystery where the world is not simply as it seems. There is something tantalizingly hopeful in these childish possibilities where Beaver's can sit down over a plate of fish and make the hairs on your neck tingle as they reveal to you that the great lion of the forest is - yes - on the prowl to lift the great curse upon the land of Narnia.

Such whimsy and mystery is not unusual in the realm of a children's book, of course. But perhaps it is worth noting that C. S. Lewis was no child when he penned these stories for his Goddaughter, Lucy. He was a man who had - along with the rest of his nation - just experienced a decade of ongoing, relentless, terrible war. Daily the facts and realities of the ways of men were blaring through the air sirens as Nazi Germany tried to pummel England into oblivion with its precise, technological might. And, yet, out of that harsh world, C. S. Lewis managed to hold on to the possibility of something more powerful than the damage that human beings can inflict on one another and the earth ... a deeper magic still. Perhaps, that is the only thing that we have to hold on to: that there might be something deeper going on in the world, deeper than the headlines we see through the plasma screens in our homes and the realities we see play out before our own two eyes of flesh.

We walk by faith, not by sight. We walk trusting in a mystery and a magic that is beyond the grasp of the human mind. Thanks be to God,

Wes

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