Each Thursday in Advent, we will run an excerpt from the book Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season (Westminister John Knox Press, 2015) by Heidi Haverkamp. This reflection, titled “The Lamppost,” is meant to be read alongside chapter 1 of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. —John 1:5
We expect to see evergreen trees, snow, and glowing lights in Advent: outdoors, in stores, and on Christmas cards. Lucy Pevensie, however, is surprised to see a light glowing through snowy trees when she walks through the wardrobe. She’s so curious about that light that she spends ten minutes walking to reach it.
A lamppost in a forest is a familiar image if you know the Narnia books, but it’s meant to be surprising. Lewis leaves it unexplained in this novel, but in a later one, we learn that it grew from an earthly lamppost, which was used as a weapon by the White Witch then transformed into this lonely but shining light by Aslan (in The Magician’s Nephew). Mr. Tumnus tells Lucy it’s the boundary between Narnia and “the wild woods of the west.” In the last chapter, the children come upon the lamppost and don’t recognize it, but they notice how old it is and that it is dwarfed by the ancient trees around it.
This lamppost is a living thing. No one lights it, no one extinguishes it, and it burns without fuel. The White Witch’s winter hasn’t snuffed it out. It is a boundary, but also a promise that Aslan can make broken things new and alive. It is a beacon in the face of the dark, cold spell that lies on the land.
An Advent wreath and Christmas lights shine with the same kind of light. Jesus is the Light of the World, shining in a darkness of despair, sin, and death. A Light that, like the lamppost, was there in the beginning with God. A Light that was broken and made new in the Resurrection. A Light that shines through the darkness on all people. A Light that beckons us to be curious and to come and see.
Questions for Reflection
- What special lights have you placed around your house this season, if any, to remind you of the “light coming into the world” (John 1:9)? If you haven’t hung any lights, are there places you might like to, if you had the time or resources?
- Anne Lamott writes, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Does this also describe the Light of Christ? Why or why not?
- What metaphor would you use to describe the light of Christ in your life this season? It might be glowing brightly, faintly, or off in the distance. Try writing a poem or prayer with that metaphor or with the metaphor of the lamppost.
From Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season. © 2015 Heidi Haverkamp. Used by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.