"Courage, Dear Heart..."Wednesday, March 30, 2011
There are many times in life when fear becomes a mighty fortress in my life; holding me captive though I fight to break free. I never was one to possess a great deal of bravery. I was nothing like my two year-old son who boldly and courageously seeks out adventure without need of his mommy’s hand to guide him. I was afraid of the dark—afraid of being alone. I was afraid of being abandoned (I’d tasted it once), and even more afraid of having no means to control what was happening in my life. If something upset my little world, I wanted to fix it, and fix it fast. If something upset a loved one’s world, I wanted to fix it as well. If I could do nothing to control the storms in my life, fear came in and swept over me…capturing me in iron-clad talons.
Ironically, my favorite part of The Voyage of The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, is the chapter titled: The Dark Island. In this chapter, Lucy, Edmond, Eustace, and Caspian sail haphazardly toward what the believe is an island. But as they approach, they find that it is nothing but darkness. Lewis challenges the reader to imagine what it would have been like to sail up to the darkness. It tells the reader to picture a railroad tunnel so long, or so twisty, that you cannot see a light shining at the end.
Lucy stood as brave as she could as the darkness swept slowly over the bow and crept over the ship. It is written that the bow of the ship was cloaked in inky blackness even while beams of golden sunlight still danced at the stern...
Sometimes in life, darkness and fear come at us slowly. We see it coming and we try to stand brave, all the while inching our way back and trying to cling to what joy, happiness, and hope still lingers behind us. But eventually, like Lucy, we run out of ship.
It turns out that the Dark Island was a place where dreams come true. When the sailors heard of this, they were exuberant. One hoped to find that he was married. Another wanted to open his eyes and find that an old friend was alive and not dead at all. But Lord Rhoop warns them, “Fools! That is the sort of talk that brought me here, and I’d better have been drowned or never born. Do you hear what I say? This is where dreams—dreams, do you understand—come to life, come real. Not daydreams: dreams.”
It only took a second for the ship to burst to life. The sailors practically stumble over each other rushing to the oars; for in a second, they understand the truth of that matter. This island is where their worst nightmare become flesh and blood.
King Caspian has the ship turned around and the men rush to sail out of the darkness. But it seems to stretch on forever—like a railroad tunnel too long and too twisty to see the light at the end. Fear overwhelms. Like cold, metal shackles at the hands and their feet, the men feel as if they are becoming a prisoner of the darkness and their fears. Hope seems as far away as the light they cannot see. At every creak and moan of the ship, with ever lap of every wave pounding against the hull…the men slip deeper into their despair.
Sometimes, life seems to slip into a darkness so thick and so deep that hope has vanished forever. I can imagine feeling like Lucy must have as she stood next to her King and felt him tremble; hear the fear in his voice. There have been so many times when pain has stabbed my heart in such a way that I gasp and think, “I’ll never recover from this.” I’m sure Lucy felt they would never escape.
But just when the darkness could never be any thicker, and the fear never stronger, Lucy leans her head to the edge of the fighting top and whispers, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.”
Lewis tells us that the darkness did not grow any less, and Lucy did begin to feel a little—a very, very little—better. “After all, nothing has really happened to us yet,” she thought.
And a light shone.
Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one but Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.
Now, right where I am in this part of my life, I find that I’ve been in darkness for far too long. I’ve let fears become companion—which is never good thing. Fears stifle, steal, kill and destroy. Fears are our enemy—the Master of Bondage. In darkness, I can not be the woman that I want to be. I fail at the wife I should be. I grapple trying to be the mother that I am meant to be. Standing in this darkness…is a trap…a world that I am not meant to stand in at all.
So, like Lucy, I lean my head and whisper, “Father, Father…if ever you love me at all, send me help now.”
And like Lucy, the darkness does not fade away, but I do feel a little—a very, very little—better.
For I know that my Savior will ride in at any moment and whisper, “Courage, dear heart,” and guide me out.