Your Majesty, your Jubilee now calls to mind your reign that’s showered countless Brits with more than tea. Your subjects curtsy and they bow with homage in their hearts. You represent their love of royalty.
“God, Save the Queen” they proudly sing as palace guards stand tall. The lyrics of this anthem voice their prayer, that God would guide your every step and give to you long life, that you might sense God’s presence everywhere.
Elizabeth, the world-at-large now celebrates your rule. Beyond your realm we recognize your face. We are not blind to griefs you’ve known or critics of The Crown. But through it all, we marvel at your grace.
Your Majesty, we mark your reign (three-score-and-ten grand years) as flags fly high and banners are unfurled. Your Jubilee provides a peek at that for which we long… real peace and oneness in our war-torn world.
Long before “The Lion King” was released as an animated movie or a Broadway musical, another lion reigned in the hearts of children in the English-speaking world. His name was Aslan, a Christ-like figure who ruled an imaginary kingdom in the Chronicles of Narnia.
Seventy-one years ago, a British novelist by the name of C.S. Lewis first introduced the world to a lion that was good but not always safe. On October 16, 1950 Lewis published “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in which Aslan was the ever-present guardian and provider. It was the first of eight books in which the kingly lion pointed the reader to a benevolent Creator.
My introduction to Aslan was in the form of a play performed by a drama troupe from Seattle Pacific University in the fall of 1974. I had just graduated from this outstanding Christian liberal arts institution and accepted a position in the university relations office. My job found me arranging tours for various performing groups on campus. When the Chancel Players were presented the opportunity to perform “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis at Expo ’74 in Spokane, I traveled with them.
Never having read any of The Chronicles of Narnia in my youth, I was intrigued by the character known as Aslan as presented in the Lewis’ story. Thirty-five years later I found myself depositing two of my daughters on the campus of Wheaton College in suburban Chicago. Having helped them unload their belongings, I went about exploring the campus.
I was delighted to discover the Wade Center named for the founder of ServiceMaster Company. Within this attractive brick building is contained archived materials and memorabilia related to C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers and G. K. Chesterton. The writing desks of Tolkien and Lewis are displayed along with the wardrobe from Lewis’ childhood home after which his most famous of all the Narnia chronicles is named. I was thrilled by what I saw.
I looked beyond Lewis’ wardrobe to see a beautiful framed painting of Aslan hanging on a wall. It reminded me of the lion sculpture that graces my desk in my office. By now I had come to an informed understanding of Lewis’ symbol. The lion is a powerful reminder of an ever-present God who was committed to my wellbeing. I loved the fact that Aslan was capable of making appearances without fanfare. It seemed as though he was always present even when not visible. He was a means of salvation when all seemed lost.
A dozen years after that self-guided tour of the Wade Center on the campus of Wheaton College, COVID threatened our world. During this time of lockdown and restrictions as well as fear and anxiety, I noted a number of coincidences that focused my perspective in a heavenly direction. These happenstances reminded me that in spite of being socially distanced, I was not on my own.
My friend SQuire Rushnell refers to such serendipities as Godwinks. In fact, SQuire is the one who coined the term. And during the difficult months of COVID, God, like Aslan, made His presence known at just the right time in unanticipated ways. I began observing Godwinks all around me. I started to sense the hot breath of an uncaged lion on my neck. I knew Aslan was near.
During lockdown, I resorted to my favorite pastime. Sitting at my laptop, I painted word pictures while dusting for divine fingerprints. The result is a collection of poetry in which I celebrate the presence of God in our everyday lives. I’ve called this volume “When God Speaks: Listening for Aslan in Everyday Life.” It’s an interactive workbook in which each poem is paired with a prompt or question and the space for the reader to reflect and respond.
Copies of “When God Speaks” or of my other books, can be ordered from links on the BOOKS menu.
On that Sunday in December, morning broke and shattered peace as the Japanese attacked our anchored fleet. Might you know someone who witnessed that grim day of infamy? It’s a day our nation contemplates this week.
The pearl of Honolulu (like a gemstone of the sea) gleamed with beauty while reflecting Nature’s light. But that jewel became the target of a nation bent on war that would bomb the living daylights into night.
We still grieve for those who perished in Pearl Harbor’s bloody bay as we listen to survivors tell their tale. In their well-rehearsed descriptions of the Hell that they observed you can see the flames and hear the victims wail.
Let the images recounted animate our firm resolve to defuse the threat of war at any cost. May that nightmare that still haunts us find us praying for world peace as we take some time to honor those we lost.
*This poem is dedicated to Lois Dusenbery. At the time of this post, at 104 years of age, she was the oldest resident at Covenant Shores Retirement Community and was an eyewitness to the attack at Pearl Harbor.