“I must be the unluckiest boy in the world.” So thought Shasta, as he found himself walking next to yet another lion. He was lost in the darkness, alone on a lonely path, and accompanied only by the rhythmic breathing of a large lion. “Tell me your sorrows,” said the Lion. And so Shasta told him of his hard childhood and too many encounters with lions and oh, by the way, he was so very hungry.
After the Lion had listened, he retold Shasta’s story. In this interpretation Shasta was loved and protected and meaningfully led by this same Lion. And at a particular point, we hear the familiar strain from this tale: No one ever is told any story but his own. So Asan not only fills Shasta’s history, but he interprets what that small history really means. He enables Shasta to understand who he is-a boy loved and led by a hidden other who has never failed him, and who appears at just the right moment to set the record straight.
This past week I found myself being exposed to a number of familiar lies about my life. These lies are a glib substitution for the real story, but, over the years they have had great power to confuse and even paralyze me. They represent, as Nouwen says in “Life of the Beloved,” my brokenness lived under the curse. These condemning lies contain superficial facts reconnected to fabricate another story that suits the designs of the
accuser. Or they take the form of internal condemnation in which I am my own worst enemy.
What is surprising me this time around is the power of the truth. I have been retold my own story in the past few months through the loving hearts of a few friends who neither spare my faults nor consider them the main act in this little one-life drama. And if I listen carefully, I frequently hear a deeper voice through their words. How do I know I am hearing God’s version of the story? By the repentance, joy and freedom that accompanies that deeper truth. I am free to admit what my lips have been ashamed to mention, and liberated to embrace joy at the powerful redemption God is producing in and through my life.
In Nouwen’s words, I am “bringing my brokenness under the blessing.” I am learning to see my life, complete with all its large regrets and small mysteries, through the freedom of being sheltered and protected in the Beloved.
And so, from this much loved story of poor Shasta who is really lost Prince Cor, wafts a lovely new fragrance. No one is told any story but his own…But when our Alan tells us our story, all we can do is kneel in his powerful love.
“The High king above all kings stooped towards him. Its mane, and some strange and solemn perfume that hung about the mane, was all around him. It touched his forehead with its tongue. He lifted his face and their eyes met. Then instantly the pale brightness of the mist and the fiery brightness of the Lord rolled themselves together in a swirling glory and themselves up and disappeared. He was alone with the horse on a grassy
hillside under a blue sky. And there were birds singing.” (The Horse and His Boy, Ch. 11)