A/N: FINALLY! I UPDATED!! (rejoices) Hope you enjoy this next installment! Constructive criticism is very much appreciated! (BTW...see if you can guess who the carpenter is.)
Of Lions and Carpenters
Shafts of golden sunlight streamed through the window and spilled over his workplace, showing up the flecks of sawdust drifting through the air. Two roughened hands of experience took the tools needed in a firm grip and glided smoothly over the wood as two dark eyes looked on intently. Lips pursed and eyebrows knit together in concentration. Shoulders bent over the work-bench, warning intruders that the craftsman was not to be disturbed. Shavings of gold lightly fell to the floor around his bare feet as the wood was shaped under his touch; and his lips curved upward, ever so slightly, in a smile that showed he found delight in his craft.
He was tall, broad, muscular…his eyes were soft and deep, full of grace, sorrow, joy, command…and wisdom, far beyond his 18-year-old appearance. With his dark skin-tone and hair, he looked as though he might come from somewhere in Arabia.
After a while, he put aside his tools and reached for his hammer. Taking a sharp, gleaming nail in one hand, he meticulously positioned it in just the right place; and in a few light, smart taps, the nail was soon embedded in the wood. He reached for another one and again brought his hammer down upon it…
Suddenly he stopped, faltered, and put the tools down for a moment. His gaze was drawn from the work…to the hands that were working. He stared at them in silence, and ran his calloused fingertips over his wrists; and his eyes grew distant and sad…as if thinking of some old, terrible wound in body and heart, or a grim memory he had no wish of remembering.
He shook himself and continued with his work. Another slow, wonderful smile danced across his lips as though he was now secretly holding a great, victorious joy inside him, or anticipating something wonderful that no one else knew was coming…
The vision faded, and all went dark…
Far off in the distance, a warm, steady glow could be seen…
It grew and spread, becoming more bright and intense every second - and in the center of it, the vague shape of a face could be seen, but any attempt to discern its features was like trying to look into the midday sun and see exactly how round it is.
And then, a Voice could be heard…a Voice as warm and strong and intense as brightness itself, speaking words that seemed to be important, but were hard to understand - like someone whispering too softly to hear well, or calling to you from a very far distance…
"…son of Adam…build…a week…make haste…she…come soon…Narnia… lost…"
Though the brightness never dimmed, the face became a little clearer…and now it seemed to be in the midst of a sea of tossing gold…
It was a Lion, and his rich, glorious mane was flowing all around him…
"…son of Adam…build…a week…make haste…she…come soon…Narnia… lost…"
Suddenly there came an angry, roaring noise, like a mixture of fire, thunder and howling wind…the Lion's face disappeared…the tossing mane transformed into red-orange tongues of scorching destruction…consuming everything…spreading…burning… help…Aslan…help! HELP!
Digory's eyes flew open and he sat up breathlessly, the last tendrils of his dream still clutching at him. He took a deep breath and passed his hand over his eyes, wiping away the sweat and clearing the fog from his mind. The first few rays of sunshine were peeking through the window and birds were waking up to greet them in song. A new day had begun.
He listened for a few moments to the reassuring tick of the clock until the pounding of his heart slowed; then he shook his head, gave a quiet, dazed chuckle and got on with his usual routine. He tried to stop brooding over it; and after an awkwardly quiet breakfast with Polly he buried himself in his work, as he always did when trying to forget his worries. But the dream had disturbed him greatly, and all morning he couldn't stop thinking about it and replaying it over and over in his mind.
For hours he lingered in his study, hoping to distract himself. He pored over different maps of China with his magnifying glass and looked things up in various encyclopedias, now and then scribbling notes on pieces of scratch paper and muttering to himself.
He jumped as there came a knock at the door.
The clock chimed one. The time had gone by much faster than he'd thought...
"Digory, come on!" The muffled voice behind the door was tinged with impatience. "I'm not planning on holding this lunch tray forever, you know."
"Sorry!" he called back, scrambling to his feet and putting his books aside. He strode over and hastily pulled the door open, allowing Polly to enter. Carrying his tray in, she took a moment to survey the room and clucked her tongue as her eyes took in the clutter.
"Books piled up everywhere...papers all over the floor just waiting to be crumpled and stepped on...really Digory, I'd have thought a person like you would be a little more organized than this."
"Now then, I usually am!" he protested feebly. "I was just...er, busier than normal today, that's all."
"Obviously." She shook her head and chuckled. "At any rate, it's easy to tell you're still a bachelor...and I do hope you're not expecting me to put your lunch there," she added, raising her eyebrows at the sight of his desk...or what she was able to see of it.
"Sorry, erm..." Digory coughed and began shoving things out of the way, attempting to clear up some space. He pushed a huge, heavy dictionary to one side, knocking over a stack of essays and a paperweight in the process. A sheepish smile crossed his face as papers fluttered everywhere.
"Oh you are hopeless," Polly sighed, placing the tray on the floor, and they both dropped to their knees to clean up the mess. She scooped up a few manuscripts and straightened them out, putting them in a neat stack next to her. She then reached for the paperweight that now lay on the ground, but Digory took it first. It was the bronze figure of a lion, standing erect and proud with its great shaggy head held high. He hesitated before putting it back and gave it a swift, strange look, as though he expected it to come to life and talk to him...
He shook himself and continued to pick up the mess, but his hand was halted by Polly's.
"Digory, what's going on?"
Her eyes were intense, and it took some effort for Digory to hold them.
"I am perfectly well, Polly. Really." He tried to smile convincingly, but it didn't work.
"Honestly, you are terrible at fibbing," said Polly. "Do you really expect me to believe you're 'perfectly well' after what I had to put up with this morning at breakfast?"
"I assure you, nothing is wrong. I simply didn't sleep well, that's all. It's nothing to worry about..."
Polly gave him a stern look. "Digory, how long have we been friends?"
"Erm...for a while?" he said lamely.
"For twenty-eight years," she corrected.
"Oh yes, thank you for reminding me how old I am," said Digory, sarcastically.
"Oh come off it! Forty years is nothing to be ashamed about."
"That is an easy statement for you to say, Miss Thirty-Nine..."
"Do not change the subject!" said Polly in exasperation. "The point is, I've known you for a long time. And for someone so intelligent, you must be pretty stupid to think you can hide something from me. I know there's something wrong, and it's not merely a lack of sleep."
Digory said nothing, but he no longer tried to mask the uneasiness he felt. Polly clearly saw it now, and she squeezed his hand.
"Please, Digory. Tell me what's wrong," she pleaded. "You can talk to me about anything. You ought to know that."
He sighed resignedly, reaching for the lion paperweight again. The weight of the bronze felt somewhat reassuring in his hand and he held it close in a firm grasp, half-hoping it would do something to take away the uncertainty. He swallowed.
"I had a dream."
Polly stood to her feet, motioning towards the couch by the fireplace. Digory followed her, and they both sat down.
"So, you had a dream," she prompted. "What was it about?"
He took a deep breath.
"Narnia. I think."
Polly subconsciously moved closer.
"The problem is," he continued, "I'm not certain as to whether it was simply an ordinary dream, or if it was possibly a vision. It wasn't like any dream I've ever experienced. It was almost like...like a nightmare. Only stranger. And it felt...urgent. Important." A light came in his eyes, and the last part almost came out as a half-whisper to himself. "I saw Him."
Polly's eyes also lit up, and she held her breath in anticipation. There was no need for her to ask who "He" was, for she already knew it was Aslan - the great Lion in Narnia's world, and the great Savior in theirs. Eagerly she listened as Digory related his dream to her; and when he had finished she leaned back and gazed at nothing, deep in thought. Unwittingly, Digory had done the same.
"You're right, Digory," said Polly after a few minutes, breaking the silence. "That was no ordinary dream. I'm almost sure it was a vision...and He was definitely trying to tell you something."
"So am I," said Digory, breathing a small sigh of relief. "I wasn't certain at first, but now that I've heard your opinion my mind feels clearer…though not much less troubled. Something's happening…or going to happen. I don't know what it is, or where - but I fear it isn't good."
Polly nodded. "I feel the same. And it's not at all a good feeling," she added, shivering. "Whatever it is, do you think it will happen in Narnia…or here in our own world?"
"Maybe both," Digory murmured.
"In your dream…you said it felt urgent and important. Was He trying to warn you of something, do you think?"
"Nothing is more probable," said Digory, leaning back in his seat and pressing the tips of his fingers together. "I'm sure it was both a warning and a command of some sort."
"Like last time?" hinted Polly with a wistful smile.
Digory chuckled. "Only this time there wasn't anything about burying poor Uncle Andrew's magic rings. Ah, good times…" For a moment his eyes grew soft and distant, and he smiled back at her in the same wistful way…and then he was back, furrowing his eyebrows and thinking hard. "If only I could've heard His voice more clearly. It was so hard to hear what He was saying…I could only pick up a word here and there."
"Maybe you weren't listening," suggested Polly.
Digory blinked as a brand new thought struck him - then leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and gave her a very keen look.
"Funny you should mention that…about not listening. Come to think of it, I haven't done much listening or talking with Him at all, lately. I haven't prayed a real prayer or studied any scripture in goodness knows how long; I've been so busy and caught up with my plans for China and whatnot." He frowned. "Perhaps that is the problem. Perhaps that's why I wasn't able to hear. I wasn't taking time to listen to Him."
"Well then," said Polly with a firm smile, "it's high time you set things right and started listening again."
He nodded. "I couldn't agree more, Polly."
"I wonder who that man was," she murmured, after a moment's silence.
"The man you saw in your dream before Aslan appeared. A carpenter, didn't you say he was?"
"Who was he, I wonder?"
"Yes..." Digory leaned back again and let his eyes wander around the room. "I wonder."
His gaze fell on an old wooden cross he'd found in Ireland, ancient and intricately carved, collecting dust as it hung on the wall over his desk. A strange, tingling thrill ran through him as he realized what he had not dared to hope; and from the depths of his soul, a joyful voice inside him cried out,
A/N: Okay, I've practically spelled it out for you by now. If you STILL don't know who the carpenter is, do yourself a favor and dust off your Bible. ;-)
Up Next: Of Revelations and Bright Ideas