Sometimes humility must come through humiliation

Luke 15:17-24 But when [the younger son] come to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Make me like one of your hired servants.'”  And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.  And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against haven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”  But the father said to his servants, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”  And they began to be merry.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis, chapter 7 (Eustace’s story about turning from a dragon back into a boy)*: “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.

“Aslan!” said Eustace. “I’ve heard that name mentioned several times since we joined the Dawn Treader. And I felt – I don’t know what – I hated it. But I was hating everything then. And by the way, I’d like to apologize. I’m afraid I’ve been pretty beastly.”

“That’s all right,” said Edmund. “Between ourselves, you haven’t been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor.”

“Well, don’t tell me about it, then,” said Eustace. “But who is Aslan? Do you know him?”

“Well – he knows me,” said Edmund. “He is the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea, who saved me and saved Narnia. We’ve all seen him. Lucy sees him most often. And it may be Aslan’s country we are sailing to.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling, chapter 30 There was a scuffling and a great thump: Someone else had clambered out of the tunnel, overbalanced slightly, and fallen.  He pulled himself up on the nearest chair, looked around through lopsided horn-rimmed classes, and said, “Am I too late?  Has it started?  I only just found out, so I–I–”

Percy spluttered into silence.  Evidently he had not expected to run into most of his family.  There was a long moment of astonishment, broken by Fleur turning to Lupin and saying, in a wildly transparent attempt to break the tension, “So–‘ow eez leetle Teddy?”

Lupin blinked at her, startled.  The silence between the Weasleys seemed to be solidifying, like ice.

“I–oh yes–he’s fine!” Lupin said loudly.  “Yes, Tonks is with him–at her mother’s–”

Percy and the other Weasleys were still staring at one another, frozen.

“Here, I’ve got a picture!” Lupin shouted, pulling a photograph from inside his jacket and showing it to Fleur and Harry . . .

“I was a fool!” Percy roared, so loudly that Lupin nearly dropped his photograph.  “I was an idiot, I was a pompous part, I was a– a–”

“Ministry-loving, family-disowning, power-hungry moron,” said Fred.

Percy swallowed.

“Yes, I was!”

“Well, you can’t say fairer than that,” said Fred, holding out his hand to Percy.

Mrs. Weasley burst into tears.  She ran forward, pushed Fred aside, and pulled Percy into a strangling hug, while he patted her on the back, his eyes on his father.

“I’m sorry, Dad,” Percy said.

Mr. Weasley blinked rather rapidly, then he too hurried to hug his son.


 

*The selection I really would have liked to include here is a passage from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that doesn’t actually exist: the talk that Aslan has with Edmund after rescuing him from the White Witch.  That talk takes place off-stage, and afterward Aslan simply says to the other children, “Here is your brother . . . and – there is no need to talk to him about what is past.”  The passage I’ve posted here isn’t quite what I wanted, but I thought of it because my sister posted a link on Facebook to a song by the Oh Hellos called “The Lament of Eustace Scrubb.”  And I do like this passage, because it features both of Narnia’s repentant sinners comparing notes about Aslan.

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4 thoughts on “Sometimes humility must come through humiliation

  1. Jeyna Grace says:

    Better to be humble now than face humiliation. Haha!

  2. […] For more on unpleasant English boys (in Narnia and at Hogwarts), see my post Sometimes humility must come through humiliation. […]

  3. […] Wardrobe as a selfish brat.  (Selfish brats are easy to identify with, at least for me.)  In one post, I paired him with Percy Weasley because they both suffer from the same condition: both are middle […]

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