Saturday, 20 February 2016

Here Be Dragons

As I grow older, I enjoy the character of Eustace Scrubb from the Narnia series a lot more. He was a vile character, a spoiled boy in the very literal sense of the word. 

His view of the world was utterly skewed by his Ego. His journal entries are a sharp contrast to the realities of living aboard the Dawn Treader (a magnificent Narnian ship); complaints flowed thick and fast - about the food (decent naval fare), living quarters (the King gave up his quarters for Eustace!) and company (talking animals). Meanwhile, Lucy and Edmund have the time of their lives and are fully appreciative of the living situation aboard ship.

Human Ego is powerful. Just like Eustace, it colours the view of our world and alters our internal landscape to such a drastic extent that we literally cannot see the forest for the trees. It gets into our eyes, ears and heart. We speak through a mask of Ego, covering our true selves out of fear.

Ego is our human remedy for fear, but it is unnecessary. Christ's atonement renders our Ego completely redundant, if we allow it. 

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve clothed themselves out of fear of being seen naked. Similarly, the Mind clothes itself with Ego out of fear of being Seen. Why is the Mind afraid? 

Without Ego, we are seen for who we are. We are children of the Almighty, and we have Light within us. In coming to Earth, we must learn to become as He is, but that separation is a painful one. Just as the newborn cries out with its first breath, our Minds cry out over the separation from God. 

This is normal and natural. Ego is not a terrible thing; it is a tool that teaches us how to come into our true selves and fully reach our divine attributes.

On that first Christmas day, when angels came to announce the birth of the Saviour of the world to shepherds, they said, 
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
The angels were not only speaking to the shepherds; they were speaking to "all people" and reminding us all that we no longer need to fear. Christ has come. Ego will be eradicated, and will no longer slow us down in our efforts to reach God.

Eustace Scrubb's ego became so big it literally turned him into a dragon. He covered himself in scales that obscured his vision, limited his ability to communicate, and caused him pain. While sitting sulking in his quarters on the Dawn Treader, he willingly separated himself from others; as a dragon, he had no other choice.

After a period of time, Eustace learned that he could be more than his Ego. He could be better than he was before - still the same boy, but a happier one, a shinier version of himself. Removing his dragon skin ego wasn't easy; in the end he needed the help of Aslan:

So at last we came to the top of a mountain I'd never seen before and on the top of this mountain there was a garden - trees and fruit and everything. In the middle of it there was a well.
“I knew it was a well because you could see the water bubbling up from the bottom of it: but it was a lot bigger than most wells - like a very big, round bath with marble steps going down into it. The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. But the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I don't know if he said any words out loud or not.
“I was just going to say that I couldn't undress because I hadn't any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that's what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.
“But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that's all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I'll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.
“Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.
“Then the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know - if you've ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.
“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. You'd think me simply phoney if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they've no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian's, but I was so glad to see them.
“After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me –“
“Dressed you. With his paws?”
“Well, I don't exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes - the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream.”
“No. It wasn't a dream,” said Edmund.
“Why not?”
“Well, there are the clothes, for one thing. And you have been - well, un-dragoned, for another.”
“What do you think it was, then?” asked Eustace.
“I think you've seen Aslan,” said Edmund.

The Lord can remove anyone's Ego. When we let go of our plans in life, remove the many layers of the versions of Self that we present to the world, and come to God symbolically naked, He will clothe us in white robes and present us to the Father.

Letting go of Ego can be painful, yes. We have to look hard at ourselves, letting go of many comfortable lies. What will you Be when your Ego is removed? Your true Self will come forth, "tender" and glorious.


  1. This is beautiful. I think I need to go back and re-read that book. The dawn treader was always my favorite one :)

    1. Thank you! I have a follow-up post tumbling around in my head. This one is very theoretical, so I want to talk about what Ego can actually look like in a person's (my) life. :)

  2. I love this. So much to think about. I want to reread that book too.