Friday, February 4, 2011
The Oratio, Meditatio and Tentatio of Jill Pole
She has been called many things, compared to many Biblical figures (Jonah, women of the NT) but I think she is more like David. And if not exactly like David at least one who follows in the footsteps of David who follows in the footsteps of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, David's son yet David's Lord. The one who gives His Word to David, most notably in the Psalms especially, Psalm 119. As I was re-reading The Silver Chair recently I couldn't help but notice that Jill (and Eustace and Puddleglum throughout the story) are ones who depend on (in fact you could say their very lives depend on these) words, words in which they live and move and have their being in Narnia as they embark upon the task for which Aslan had appointed them.
Jill however is the only one to whom these words of Aslan, signs he calls them, are given:
"I will tell you, child," said the Lion. "These are the signs by which I will guide you in your quest" (emphasis added). First; as soon as the boy Eustace sets foot in Narnia, he will meet an old and dear friend. He must greet that friend at once; if he does, you will both have good help. Second; you must journey out of Narnia to the north till you come to the ruined city of the ancient giants. Third; you shall find a writing on a stone in that ruined city, and you must do what the writing tells you. Fourth; you will know the lost prince (if you find him) by this, that he will be the first person you have met in your travels who will ask you to do something in my name, in the name of Aslan."
..."Remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is important to know them by heart and pay attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters. And now, Daughter of Eve, farewell - "
David is given the Word of the Lord. Don't worry, I won't copy and paste all of Psalm 119. Here's just a few of the signs given to David:
49 Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.
97 Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
147 I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.
148 My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
Seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments.
Of course there is not a one-to-one correspondence between the story and the psalm. The Silver Chair is not really an allegory of Psalm 119 either. It could be that this is one facet of richness to be found, or one mine shaft to be explored in the vast caves of Narnian treasures.
And in a similar way, Jill and Eustace were comforted unto the end. "I have come," said a deep voice behind them. They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong thast everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him. And in less time than it takes to breathe Jill forgot about the dead King of Narnia and remembered how she had made Eustace fall over the cliff, and how she had helped to muff nearly all the signs, and about all the snappings and quarrelings. And she wanted to say, "I'm sorry" but she could not speak. Then the Lion drew them towards him with his eyes, and bent down and touched their pale faces with his tongue, and said:
"Think of that no more. I will not always be scolding. You have done the work which I sent you into Narnia."
"Please, Aslan," said Jill, "may we go home now?"
Yes. I have come to bring you Home," said Aslan. Then he opened his mouth and blew.