“But please ,please—won’t you—can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own, that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.” (C.S.Lewis,TheMagician’s Nephew)
I have been crying a great many Digory-type tears lately. Several long days ago we received news that my friend’s son, Sam, had been wounded in Afghanistan. Today he lies in a military hospital in a coma from which there is no human hope that he will awaken in this life. I have found myself appealing to God in tears. I am far away from my friends who tangibly surround the family. And how many times have I begun a short message to my friend and her family, only to erase it because I can’t find any words?
What I have are these tears. Tears of sorrow for the family, tears of regret for the adult years that Sam will not live among us, tears of disbelief and anger for the inhumanity that improvises explosive devises lying in wait for a highly trained, yet not omniscient, soldier to tread upon. Tears for our broken humanity that must endure the terrible sting of war and death and pain. Sometimes it seems that the world drowns in tears.
We cannot erase time to re-tread the few steps before the bomb explodes…no, wait, go this way instead!.. And we cannot take away a mother’s agony at the enormous gap in her future. The brother and son, the beloved and friend has gone beyond our reach. There are no words for this kind of pain. But there are tears.
Lewis knew all about the helpless tears humanity cries for those they love and lose. Having lost his mother in childhood, it took him years to complete this most autobiographical of stories. Digory is Lewis-in-Narnia, and it took Lewis a long time to paint this picture of God’s face in the midst of human despair. Aslan’s tears are different: shining tears, brighter tears…as though through the transparency of these tears we can glimpse both the identification of the Friend who cries with Mary at her brother Lazarus’ grave, and the triumph in the question he asks another Mary weeping at his own grave even as He stands vitally alive and bright before her.
Aslan’s bright and shining tears remind me that we who weep as one “marked as Christ’s own forever” are not finished with life when our days on earth are done.We await a day when whether we have lived eighty years, twenty years or two months in this life will matter very little. Lazarus will rise yet again, the Marys of Bethany and Magdala will be with him, as will Lewis…and my young soldier friend. I weep today as one with hope weeps: for will not those bright and shining eyes of our tender God first look deeply into the eyes of grieving mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons, daughters, sweethearts, spouses and friends, wiping away all of their tears in the wake of his own victory over death? Then, when every other eye has been dried, I wonder if he will not wipe his own…
“…for the dream is ended: this is the morning. And as He spoke, he no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them…” (C.S.Lewis,The Last Battle)