After seven years in an apartment with three human roommates and an unknown (but alarming) number of rodent roommates, I can safely say that I don’t like mice. Don’t get me started on how much they creep me out. I welcome creative murderous thoughts when I see them. (I’m sure that’s a great third sentence to write on this fresh new blog. Hello, world!)
But Reepicheep is different. Somehow in the magic of fiction and the imagination, he is a mouse I adore, admire, and want to be like when I grow up? Reepicheep is a character that captivated me as a child and captivates me still now as an adult when I read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (arguably the best of the Narnia series). He is “the most valiant of all the Talking Beasts of Narnia, and the Chief Mouse,” a warrior whose fighting won him “undying glory” in many battles. He is small (but much bigger than a normal mouse, about three feet tall..slightly alarming if in real life. Don’t think about it too much) but it would not be wise to think less of him because of his size, as he doesn’t seem to think he’s any smaller than anyone else in the room and fights with a sword as good as any man. He fights with ferocity for the honor of his king and for the glory of the name of Aslan. He’s pretty intense and I LOVE IT:
“He was a good [chess] player, and when he remembered what he was doing he usually won. But every now and then Lucy won because the Mouse did something quite ridiculous, like sending a knight into the danger of a queen and castle combined. This happened because he had momentarily forgotten it was a game of chess and was thinking of a real battle and making the knight do what he would certainly have done in its place.”
I literally laughed when reading this, imagining this fierce talking mouse picking up chess pieces way too big for him and making valiant, ridiculous moves because he momentarily forgot it was only chess, and not a real life battle scene. Oh Reep, you are the best.
And yet with all of his intense desire for adventure and glory on the Dawn Treader’s quest, his desire to go home to Aslan’s country is as intense, and more majestic. For all his zeal for fighting and honor, his desire to follow the hope planted in him since a child carries him:
“Where sky and water meet
Where the waves grow sweet
Doubt not, Reepicheep
To find all you seek
There is the utter East.”
More than anything, Reepicheep yearns to go eastward to Aslan’s country, even if it means he has to swim there. This yearning to go home never wanes, but deepens and intensifies throughout his journey. Toward the end of the book, as Reepicheep paddles out with Lucy and Edmond and Eustace at the world’s end, he gets more excited to get toward Aslan’s country. For the children’s sake he pretends to be sad as they embrace and say goodbye, but his heart is overflowing with joy. He throws his sword into the Lake of the Lilies, “I shall need it no more” — and he goes with joy down to Aslan’s country. And there I am, weeping with Lucy and Edmond and Eustace as we watch our friend, Reepicheep the valiant talking mouse, paddle away in his coracle to Aslan’s country.
In a way, Reepicheep and I are kindred spirits. We are both small but never feel small (I perpetually think I’m the same height as everyone else. I am 5’2″), and if anyone voiced doubts of our significance or asked “Why are you even on this boat?” we would be confused by the question and likely say, “Because I am on this crew, you’ll likely need my help, and I’m going to Aslan’s country.” We fight. Brazenly and boldly. Like Reepicheep playing chess, I need to grow in wisdom to know which battles are worthy ones, and which are not. We are fierce through and through. In our hearts there is a desire for more than fighting, a desire to be home with the one we are fighting for and with.
Honestly, the scene in the picture above (made by my sister!) is one that always brings me to tears. Somehow I am on that boat with Reep, almost giggling with excitement and yet also crying as we near Aslan’s country. I cannot wait until I get to throw my sword into the Lake of the Lilies and be at rest with him. I’ve prayed this prayer on that coracle with Reep, “Lord, you’ve made me a fighter, and I’ll fight. You have to teach me to discern which battles are worthy of fighting. I’ll need your training, your strategy, your strength. The sword, and the valiant fights and foolish moves I make, the close calls and the victories, will all be a shadow compared to the sheer delight of being home. Until then, I fight. But please, do come soon so I can throw away this sword and be with you.”
So here is a blog with fights I’m battling, how I’m training, ways I’m un-learning bad form and learning correct form, ways I’m strategizing differently because my perspective is shifting, etc. My fighting is the way I’m learning to sacrifice in order to see God’s kingdom brought from heaven to earth. It is in declaring that Christ is King and his rule is best. It is the thoughtful, prayerful, full-of-mistakes discipleship that happens in friendships, in marriage; it is in learning how to rest, how to forgive, how to be radically sacrificial; it is in learning how to be both fierce and gentle; it is in the struggle and joy of living in reconciling community; it is learning how to mourn, how to celebrate, and how to send a birdie to the enemy and declare that a new reality has been established in Christ and everything is forever changed. Intense, I know. “It’s just a game of chess, Reep!” “NO, IT’S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.”
In it all, what carries me isn’t the fighting itself but the hope bubbling up that one day I will arrive at the sweet waters of Aslan’s country, where I can throw down the sword and be at rest with the one who loves deeper than anyone I’ve ever known. It will be a place of wholeness we don’t ever fully realize here on earth, a place of full reconciliation, a place of real rest, real togetherness, real peace with the One who made us. Oh, I wait for the day! Until then, I fight. Come with me, the water’s fine and gets sweeter as we go along!