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Reflections on Lewis with Caspian

By Gina Burkart
Author, Finding Purpose in Narnia: A Journey with Prince Caspian Admitting Our Faults

Admitting that we have made a mistake is not easy. In fact, our first inclination is to point the finger elsewhere and find faults in others. Yet, we are called to forgive. Lewis speaks of this in a letter to his friend Malcom, as he reflects on the challenge of “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” in The Lord’s Prayer. He admits that “to go on forgiving, to forgive the same offence every time” is “the real tussle.” And I think most of us would agree with him. It is hard to keep forgiving, especially the same offence. However, Lewis shares some advice: “If I find it difficult to forgive those who bullied me at school, let me, at that very moment, remember, and pray for, those I bullied” (C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963, 28.) In reflecting on how we have hurt others and our own need for forgiveness, we humbly find ourselves willing to forgive others. We learn to look inward and hold ourselves accountable for our own actions.

Lewis exemplifies this lesson when Lucy finds Aslan. After rejoicing and sobbing with delight, Lucy begins to blame the others for her not finding Aslan sooner. She says to Aslan, “Wasn’t it a shame? I saw you all right. They wouldn’t believe me. They’re all so—”

Aslan interrupts her with “the faintest suggestion of a growl” that shows his disapproval.  Lucy gets the point and quickly says “I’m sorry.” Like us, though, she follows her apology with the infamous “but” clause that still attempts to shift blame. “I didn’t mean to start slanging the others. But it wasn’t my fault anyway, was it?” Don’t you hear yourself here? How often have you also said “But it wasn’t my fault anyway, was it?” (C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia [New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001], 380.19)

Like Jesus, Aslan will not accept this. He “looked straight into her eyes”—just as God looks straight into our souls. Lucy (like us) still continues; this time she gives her excuses. “You don’t mean it was? How could I—I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I?” (Ibid.) Don’t we do this also? After the “but” clause, we list all of our excuses in an attempt to justify our actions or non-actions. Lewis helps us see ourselves so clearly here. He shows our stages of denial for accepting blame.

  1. It wasn’t me!
  2. But . . .
  3. How could I have . . .

Like Aslan, God does not fall for any of this. He expects us to take full ownership for our mistakes. Lucy finally finds this in Aslan’s look. “Don’t look at me like that . . . oh well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?” (Ibid.)

Here Lucy begins to take responsibility and realize that none of the excuses hold true. Aslan would have been there to help her. Here is our lesson. Not only must we take responsibility and ownership for our mistakes, we must also realize that everything is possible with God. We are never alone. God is always there beside us. Therefore, no excuse will ever hold muster with God.

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Excerpt from Finding Purpose in Narnia,  by Gina Burkart. Copyright © 2008 by Gina Burkart. Hidden Spring, an imprint of Paulist Press, Inc., New York/Mahwah, NJ. Reprinted by permission of Paulist Press, Inc.


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