Archives, Pondering

There is No Other Way

We meet Jill Poole in a moment not unlike Martha’s first encounter with Jesus. While controlling Martha encounters an unmoveable Lord, foolish Jill encounters an unmoveable Lion. Her offence? Showing off at the end of a cliff until her friend, Digory, fell over trying to rescue her. A huge, bright coloured animal bounded up and blew with his breath underneath her falling friend so that he rode as though on a cloud to a distant land. After all of the drama, Jill becomes very, very thirsty. When she finds the running water she has been hearing in the distance, she finds the Lion lying right next to the stream.

If you are thirsty, you may drink.

I’m dying of thirst.

Then drink.

May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?

( A low growl)

Do you promise not to—do anything to me, if I come?

I make no promise.

Do you eat girls?

I have swallowed up girls, boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms.

I daren’t come and drink.

Then you will die of thirst.

Oh dear! I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.

There is no other stream.

It never occurs to Jill to question Aslan’s last statement. And in this reflection I want to ask the kind of question that lies under the reality painted in this scene from Lewis’ Narnia Chronicle, The Silver Chair. How many sources of wisdom are there?  As I have observed in the other blogs, there can be similarities on the path of wisdom, just as there limited ways one can drink from a river. But the really foundational question is not the manner of drinking but the the source of the water. Is there more than one stream? The question is not only relevant for Jill Poole who needs water to quench her thirst, but for us, who may never find ourselves in such extraordinary circumstances, yet thirst for relationship, for knowledge, for meaning in our brief lives.

Perhaps the water lies within us, and Jesus came to awaken that which lies at the core of each of our beings. From this perspective if we have the capacity to recognize thirst, then there must be placed in us the capacity to fulfill that thirst. Or, to the point, if we recognize wisdom, there must be an innate inner capacity to achieve wisdom, to become receptive to a higher meanings than those immediately accessible to us as rather dormant human beings. There are ancient wisdom traditions who reckon wisdom’s source to be in a God who is completely at unity with His creation and emanates light from within the creation. Each of us, then, carries a hidden piece of that radiant light. As we learn to recognize the light in all of God’s creation, we can develop a kind of X-ray vision that enables us to see God in ourselves. Even God sees himself in us: You are a mirror in which God sees himself.

This ancient understanding of the universe has not only taken hold outside Christianity, but is forcefully attempting to make its way inside. What did Jesus mean when he spoke of the kingdom of God? In this view, the kingdom is a spiritual space where I can perceive the deeper meanings of the physical world and their refractions of this invisible God-infused light. Eventually I can become one with all light. In this way I participate in the Kingdom of God.

(This way of thinking is seductive, because examples include the difference between eating a fast-food burger and partaking of a meal served in love. We would all agree that the meals are qualitatively different, but the source of that difference would be distinctive. One chef is creating from an innate inner wisdom, while the other is extending the love of Jesus as it is poured in and through a heart filled from outside

And why did Jesus have to die? By this account, he died to all he knew and loved because, like any great master, Jesus knew that self-denial was one of the higher paths to the super-consciousness within the universe. We, too, make sacrifices in the same way.

Enough. Let me begin again. What is the source of wisdom? Jill will never find the water that quenches her soul from within. She has to drink a gift that been given to her from outside. And she will never find Digory without the signs that Aslan gives her. “Remember, remember, remember the signs.” The signs are not embedded in the landscape. She has to continue to obey Aslan is to see them.

And wisdom? Well, we won’t find a great deal of wisdom in Jill in this book, but we will find a wise guide, a dour marshwiggle named Puddleglum. In the hour of their greatest need, when they must know truth from untruth, light from darkness, evil from good, it is Puddlglum stamping his foot in the witch’s fire, sending up the stink of burnt marshwiggle, and, far more importantly, invoking the name of Aslan, the great King who
rules in Narnia, that sets the children free from deception.

There is a distinguishable path we know as Christian wisdom. And while is shares some companion processes with other paths of wisdom, it has one fundamental difference that distinguishes Christian wisdom from all others. The source of wisdom does not only come from outside our own selves, but from outside the world itself.

God did not create us so that he might know himself. He created us that we might know Him. It was by wisdom that God created the world, through wisdom that Jesus both learned as he grew, and, in his ministry, received particular wisdom from His Father by means of the Holy Spirit. His death was so unlike any of our deaths because He is the Lamb who was slain and opened the way to God, that offensively Christian only way.

And on the far side of his ascension, Jesus Christ is proclaimed worthy to receive wisdom along with blessing and glory. He is the source of all wisdom now and in the ages to come. Like Lucy, we will find it is futile to look for another stream. There is no other stream. The way to wisdom–to godly understanding in the midst of the world’s cries, to joy in the midst of our difficult circumstances, to light on our stony paths–descends into us from the same source as the faith to cry out for it. God, in Christ, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit is the source of Christian wisdom. There is no other way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s