At the beginning of this year, I was prompted to read C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. I’d read some of them before, but have never read the entire series. Writing this, I am half-way through The Silver Chair, the fourth book in the series (according to the original numbering. There has been a bit of controversy in Lewisian circles, as many have sought to renumber the series in the order of the stories they contain, rather than the order of publication. I prefer to stick to the original numbering, as did Lewis, writing, “I think I agree with your order (i.e. chronological) for reading the books more than with your mother’s. The series was not planned beforehand as she thinks. When I wrote The Lion I did not know I was going to write any more. Then I wrote P. Caspian as a sequel and still didn’t think there would be any more, and when I had done The Voyage I felt quite sure it would be the last. But I found as I was wrong. So perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them. I’m not even sure that all the others were written in the same order in which they were published.”)
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” – Aslan
As I was reading Book 2, Prince Caspian, I ran across something that took be by surprise and, as I have contemplated it, has been a delightful discovery. In Chapter 10, we find Lucy Pevensie once again in Narnia (in truth, she has been there since Chapter 1), and she meets Aslan the lion for the first time in this volume. Having a great affection for Aslan since her encounters with him in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, she rushes to him, “kissing him and putting her arms as far around his neck as she could and burying her face in the beautiful rich silkiness of his mane.” “Aslan,” she remarks, “you’re bigger.” “That is because you’re older,” Aslan replies. Then she asks, simply, as children do, “Not because you are?” Then Aslan says something that was puzzling to me: “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” I pondered this for awhile, unsure of what to make of it. “Every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” What could Aslan possibly mean by that? What’s more, what could Lewis, a masterful wordsmith and expert in all things literature, have meant?
After what seemed like a great deal of pondering, I realized something that helped me to understand what I believe Aslan (and Lewis) was saying. Aslan, in the Narnia stories, is meant to typify Jesus. From the very first book, as he is killed by the White Witch and resurrected by “deeper magic from before the dawn of time), Lewis uses the character to show how Christ love us. When I realized this, the exchange between him and Lucy took on a whole new color. Aslan said that Lucy would find him bigger as she got older. In much the same way, as we grow in our Christian faith, as we spend more time with Aslan/Jesus, and as our needs grow, we consistently find Him bigger, that is, able to meet whatever needs we have, and the subject of a relationship that deepens with time. It is as if, when we are young (I am speaking spiritually, not physically), we find just as much of Christ as we are able to wrap our arms around, and a bit more. Then, as we grow, and our arms become longer, we find that He has, to our perception, grown. This speaks to the matchless, endless, ever-sufficient love of Christ. It also speaks to His person – as our knowledge of, understanding of, and depth of relationship with Him are inexhaustible.
Whether this is the meaning that Lewis intended, or whether I have created a whole theological backdrop for a few lines in a book that were only the words of a masterful storyteller, I may never know. But I find that I am richer for the contemplation, regardless.
Thank you, Mr. Lewis!