Thursday, February 21, 2008

Of Lyrics and Lions

The other day in the car, Lucy asked, "Mom, is Jesus a lion?" I answered, "Well, in the Bible there are lots of different names for Jesus, and one of them is 'lion,' so while He is a man, He's also called a lion."

A day or so later, she asked, "Can we hear that song on the map about Jesus being a lion?" [Sidenote: She calls the iPod the map. I think because it's hooked up in the car and lights up--like it's some sort of both musical and GPS system. Which by the way would be really cool and useful if it were true.] I couldn't think of what song she might mean. We've got only one song about lions, and it's about Daniel in the lions' den, so I tried that one. "No, no, no--I want the one about JESUS the Lion." This went on for awhile, but I could never find the song she wanted.

Then last night on the way to church, the song "Thy Word" came on and she shouted "This is it! The Jesus lion song!" To my knowledge, there's nothing in this song either about lions or even about Jesus specifically; it's "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." So I listened to her sing and this is what I heard: "Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a lion by my bed." (She really sang it with gusto too.) Now normally I would correct her right away especially since we're dealing with a Bible verse and not something by Elton John or someone, but I listened to her sing the remainder of the song: "When I feel afraid / think I've lost my way / still You're there right beside me / Nothing will I fear / As long as You are near / Please be near me to the end..." and I just left it. There will be time later to tell her.

It's not as though she is singing an untruth. The idea of the Lion of the tribe of Judah watching over her bed is apparently comforting to her and actually enormously comforting to me. It also immediately reminded me of a lovely letter written by C.S. Lewis, which I hope it won't be violating a bunch of copyright laws if I post it here. He wrote to a 9-year-old boy's mother because the boy was concerned that he loved Aslan more than Jesus.

6 May 1955

Dear Mrs. K:

Tell Laurence from me, with my love: 1/ Even if he was loving Aslan more than Jesus (I'll explain in a moment why he can't really be doing this) he would not be an idol-worshipper. If he was an idol worshipper he'd be doing it on purpose, whereas he's now doing it because he can't help doing it, and trying hard not to do it. But God knows quite well how hard we find it to love Him more than anyone or anything else, and He won't be angry with us as long as we are trying. And He will help us.

2/ But Laurence can't really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that's what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before. Of course there is one thing Aslan has that Jesus has not--I mean, the body of a lion....Now if Laurence is bothered because he finds the lion-body seems nicer to him than the man-body, I don't think he need be bothered at all. God knows all about the way a little boy's [or girl's!] imagination works (He made it, after all) and knows that at a certain age the idea of talking and friendly animals is very attractive. So I don't think He minds if Laurence likes the Lion-body....

3/ If I were Laurence I'd just say in my prayers something like this: "Dear God, if the things I've been thinking and feeling about those books are things You don't like and are bad for me, please take away those feelings and thoughts. But if they are not bad, then please stop me from worrying about them. And help me every day to love you more in the way that really matters far more than any feelings or imaginations, by doing what you want and growing more like you." That is the sort of thing I think Laurence should say for himself; but it would be kind and Christian-like if he then added, "And if Mr. Lewis has worried any other children by his books or done them any harm, then please forgive him and help him never to do it again."

Will this help? I am terribly sorry to have caused such trouble, and would take it as a great favor if you could write again and tell me how Laurence goes on. I shall of course have him daily in my prayers. He must be a corker of a boy: I hope you are prepared for the possibility he might turn out a saint. I daresay the saints' mothers have, in some ways, a rough time!

Yours sincerely,

C.S. Lewis


Ann-Marie said...

Trust old Jack to write a sweet letter. I loved Aslan, too, since TLTWATW was the only Lewis book I liked. I can see where a good mother would become concerned. When I was little, I used to sing "Why am I so pretty?" to myself in the mirror. Mom thought I was being really vain until I told her, "Olive Oyl sings it!"

I love that God is the lion by our bed. Too cute! Sort of like, Lead On, O Kinky Turtle! (as opposed to Lead On, O God Eternal). Ah, hymns and children - a volatile mix!

Ann-Marie said...

Duh! I meant, "Lead On, O King Eternal"

I still can't get it right, and I'm 29!

Alice said...

Or "Carry a Laser" (Kyrie Eleison)...

Ann-Marie said...

Jose, can you see? (Oh, say can you see)

'Scuse me while I kiss this guy (while I kiss the sky).

The list goes on and on...