come, children, i have other work to do

There's a scene in CS Lewis' The Last Battle, called "How The Dwarfs Refused to be Taken In."  Everyone is through the terrible door and into Aslan's country, reveling in the beauty and splendor of how the inside of the stable is bigger than the outside.  

As they're exploring, they come across a group of dwarfs who believe that they are still in the stable.  No matter what anyone tells them, they won't understand that they're free now.  

As Lucy says, "I've tried and tried to make friends with them, but it's no use."  

Finally, when Aslan arrives, Lucy begs him to help the dwarfs.

“Dearest,” said Aslan, “I will show you both what I can, and what I cannot, do.” He came close to the Dwarfs and gave a low growl: low, but it set all the air shaking. But the Dwarfs said to one another, “Hear that? That’s the gang at the other end of the stable. Trying to frighten us. They do it with a machine of some kind. Don’t take any notice. They won’t take us in again!”

Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs’ knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn’t much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn’t taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a stable. One said he was trying to eat hay and another said he had got a bit of an old turnip and a third said he’d found a raw cabbage leaf. And they raised golden goblets of rich red wine to their lips and said “Ugh! Fancy drinking dirty water out of a trough that a donkey’s been at! Never thought we’d come to this.” But very soon every Dwarf began suspecting that every other Dwarf had found something nicer than he had, and they started grabbing and snatching, and went on to quarreling, till in a few minutes there was a free fight and all the good food was smeared on their faces and clothes or trodden under foot. But when at last they sat down to nurse their black eyes and their bleeding noses, they all said:

“Well, at any rate there’s no Humbug here. We haven’t let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.”

“You see,” said Aslan. “They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out. But come, children. I have other work to do.”

CS Lewis, The Last Battle

Labyrinth, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis, Santa Fe, NM (photo: me and my cell phone)

Labyrinth, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis, Santa Fe, NM (photo: me and my cell phone)

One of the professors in my counseling program told this story on a number of occasions.  When he was a young boy, maybe 5 or 6 years old, he went downstairs one night to get a drink of water.  As he came down the stairs, he saw his father hit his mother.  He talked about how his understanding of his world shifted in that instant.

Jean Piaget "envisioned a child's knowledge as composed of schemas, basic units of knowledge used to organize past experiences and serve as a basis for understanding new ones. Schemas are continually being modified by two complementary processes that Piaget termed assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation refers to the process of taking in new information by incorporating it into an existing schema. In other words, we assimilate new experiences by relating them to things we already know. On the other hand, accommodation is what happens when the schema itself changes to accommodate new knowledge."  source

In my professor's case, he was required to modify his earlier schema (perhaps, "My family is safe") when he witnessed his father's violence toward his mother.

All of us can imagine the kind of pain that a child suffers when he learns that his family is not what he thought it was.

We can imagine the pain, and we've all had that same experience, in one form or another.  We've all had to change our schema from time to time, and often that change comes at a heavy emotional price.

For me, these past few years have been a long series of schema-altering experiences.  There was no way to force the new information into the old schema.  

The old schema had to go, and new schema had to be created.  That is heart-breaking, mind-bending, life-changing work.  

Good work, glad I did it, but WORK, y'all.

For me, and for a lot of people I know, election night last November was a schema-buster.  The exact opposite of everything we'd been told about Christian values was elected president--by Christians.

Like Lucy, I've stuck around these last few months, trying to be friendly, saying, "Hey! Look! Light! Air! Freedom! Peace!"

I've spent this entire summer journaling out my sorrow, working out what to do with this new information, this new reality.

With Charlottesville, with the Nashville Statement, with the heartbreak of DACA, I hear Aslan saying to me, "Come, child, we have other work to do."

I think I've done my Lucy-work for now.  

I'm ready to move on.

There is a life of Love, a life that includes, a life that connects us all to the Love that never lets us go, and that is the work I want to invest in.

That means you'll continue to see me with a protest sign in my hands, on the streets of Dallas, standing with the marginalized, the suffering, the oppressed.

That means you'll continue to find me on my yoga mat, breathing deep the breath of God.

That means you'll continue to find me worshiping with a congregation so full of hope and inclusion that you just have to experience it to believe it.  (Come by any Sunday, y'all.)

But for the next couple of weeks, that means you won't see me at all, because Andy and I are taking a trip to Ireland and Scotland: castles, coastlines, history, hiking, pubs, fish n chips.  All the good stuff.  Can't wait to tell you about it when I get back.

I don't want to have feet of stone
I don't want to have feet of stone
I want to follow this river of life where
It will have me go
I don't want to have feet of stone

I don't want to have a dagger tongue
I don't want to have a dagger tongue
I don't want my words to be a weapon
But a healing bond
I don't want to have a dagger tongue

I don't want to have a heavy mind
I don't want to have a heavy mind
I don't want to hold these thoughts
That are chains of iron
I don't want to have a heavy mind

I want to have eyes of love
I want to have eyes of love
Count the beggar mans life precious as my own
Offer my back for my brothers load
I want to have eyes of love
I want to have eyes of love

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