By Rev. Dr. Ka'thy Gore Chappell
These days we are adjusting to life according to COVID-19! Our experience is described as “unprecedented!” and hearing the word regularly repeated, we know that the pandemic of 2020 has forever changed our lives. Experiencing fear and anxiety and incorporating phrases like “sheltering in place” into our everyday vocabulary, we feel tired and notice that one day meshes into another and each day of the week begins to look the same. At the same time, joy surprises us with friendliness from our neighbors, the beauty of creation and the consistency of God’s presence.
In a story written for children, C. S. Lewis uses The Chronicles of Narnia to portray a real life situation while connecting the reader to time, events and relationships that are “unprecedented.” In Book 1, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” C.S. Lewis introduces the tale of four children who have been relocated to the “country” for safety from the bombing occurring in London during WWII. Upon arrival the two sisters and two brothers discover they will be living in a very old, huge house with a very old, bearded professor. In assessing their situation, the siblings decide they have arrived at a wonderful country house where there is plenty of space inside and out with only the professor and his three servants who will pretty much allow the children to do whatever they want to do.
On the first night, the children gather in one bedroom to make plans for the next day and quickly decide they will explore outside the home. Unfortunately, when they awake, it is raining and their exploration must take place inside the house instead. A suggestion by older brother, Peter, the younger siblings, Susan, Edmond and Lucy, agree.
As the story unfolds, the children begin their exploration of the house by rambling from one room to another while checking out the pieces of furniture positioned in each room. Eventually, the children arrive in a large room which contains only one piece of furniture—a wardrobe. While the children are eager to move on to the next room, Lucy, the youngest of the four children, decides to stay in the room and investigate the wardrobe. She stays behind and she approaches the wardrobe—and what she discovers is light—light behind her and light in front of her that leads her through the wardrobe to a lamp-post. Lucy had arrived in Narnia.
How might our world health crisis be similar to World War II where parents literally sent their children to the country to avoid the devastation of bombing in the cities, towns, and villages? How might our “social distancing” be similar to the relocation and flexibility of these children where schedules were abruptly changed and anxiety was high? How might our lives demonstrate an opportunity to embrace the fact that life has changed, yet, share hope for a new normal? How might the Chronicles of Narnia, written by C. S. Lewis for his goddaughter, teach us life lessons based on our pandemic?
Currently, the Mayor’s Office and the City of Winston-Salem, North Carolina have a mantra for living in a pandemic. It is “Wear a mask! Love your neighbor. Protect yourself.” To me, the mantra is a spiritual, unselfish way to view and act on a crisis and then, as people of faith, transition to a familiar scripture passage.
“Jesus said,’ The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” Mark 12:30-33, The Message
Where do you find yourself during this “unprecedented” experience? The children found themselves, especially Lucy, in search of light in the darkness and longing for a safety net (of light in the back of the wardrobe). How might we love our neighbor and protect self? Consider designing your action plan for light and love today!
Dear God, grant us the wisdom and courage to search for the light and act with love in order to make a difference in our world. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.