Let’s talk about my homie C.S. Lewis for a minute. The man was a genius. In one of his books The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, there is a boy named Eustace who wanders off by himself to be lazy, takes a nap, and wakes up as a dragon. (For those of you that haven’t read it; I won’t spoil it, I guess you’ll just have to wait for the next movie to come out…) Eustace and I have a point of convergence.
I didn’t wander off into a cave; I wandered out of college and into adulthood. I didn’t take a nap, I just took a long and difficult walk through the woods. But here are Eustace and I at the same place, gazing into the same pool, slowing acknowledging the horrific reality of our transformation. Confusion and fear are only the tip of the iceberg. I stare at my reflection; the hideous snout, the wicked eyes, the fire in my lungs, and the scaly armor that has taken me captive. Where I had hands that comforted, now only brutish talons; eyes that once looked for beauty and intricacy, now only look at the surface; where I had words to love, now only fire, smoke, and snarls. I am a dragon in the truest meaning of the name.
This armor: what a thing to behold, it’s marvelous really. It’s thick, tough, and nearly impenetrable. I’ve come to rely on its protection- the safety of my scales. Wrapped in its defense, I learned how to capitalize on the gift of strength, and miracle of flight. But now it’s got to go. This thick skin, these ugly scales-they all have to go. In the book, there comes a point when Eustace has to fight for his release by clawing the scales off of his body. So here I am, sitting in a muddy stream allowing the hot steam of my tears and hurt disturb the landscape around me; scraping, clawing, scratching at my own scaly skin in painful futility. I’m over flying on my own, I’m tired of the destruction, and weary of the fire of my words. I want to trust in the protection of Another, I want to embrace the humility of my frailty, and fly only in the safety of the shadow of His wings. And so, in my own effort I scrape at my skin shedding one skin, then a second, and then a third but remain as dragon as ever. Until He says “You have to let me do it.” Now all I can do is try to sit still and let Him.
Oh, the redemption found in being known. It must be hard to love a dragon- but I am a loved lizard, completely despite the harshness of my exterior and the shame of my poor choices. It’s been a great week. It started with a late night conversation with an old friend to remind me where my feet are planted, and then a spontaneous worship service reminded me how I grow; the whispers of the former resonating in my spirit as loudly as the echoes off the walls of the latter. Each day of this week has been saturated with hugs and encouragement, wonderful time with old friends, and quality time with new ones; and all the while He sings over me and the rain pours down and runs over me like sheets of ice as I sit on a porch and listen to their music and pray for their hearts. And He sings over me, while He scrapes my scales, and the rain washes me, and He sings, He sings, He sings.
So thanks, dearest ones, for remembering, or believing, that there is beauty under all of this hideous strength. And thank you for being so very patient while this dragon becomes a little more human, and a little more holy, every day.