When Aslan roars, winter shall be no more.
When Aslan shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.
Susan had never really enjoyed going to church before. She liked it much better after having been to Narnia, but she found that she still wasn't able to appreciate the words that came out of the speaker's mouth, though it wasn't as boring as it was before. After going to America, she found that she saw mass only as a boring hour or so of lectures that taught her nothing of the world- it simply wasn't logical that the earth was created it seven days, therefore it couldn't be true. She wasn't sure what she believed; she supposed she was still a Christian- she was born and raised that way, not to mention her mother would be furious if she completely gave up going to church. So, she kept going, though the whole time she was there, she was wishing she could go home and put on make-up and pretty dresses and go to the cinema with her friends. It was so boring to be stuck in a stuffy old room. Many times she had tried to talk her mother out of making her go- she found it didn't work at all. Her mother was adamant about it, and her father backed her up on it in every argument.
About six months after America, she noticed that, instead of Lucy and her brothers staring, bored, up at the ceiling as she did, they watched the priest talk, listened with eager ears, each of their faces shining with delight. She never understood it, but her subconscious wished that she could feel the same way too. But she always shook it off as being silly- they were simply misguided, childish little dears who simply didn't know how the world worked.
But, no matter how misguided she told herself they were she would never forget the first day their demeanor had changed.
It had started with Edmund:
She was staring up at the light fixtures on the ceiling of the church with very little interest. It was such a bore to be here without any of her friends. What was the point of it, anyways? She was vaguely aware of Edmund flipping away at the bible provided in the pews for something to do. She could tell by how often he was flipping the pages that he was reading it. Susan rolled her eyes. Why her brother was even bothering to read such boring things was beyond her.
Suddenly, she was broken out of a wonderful day dream in which she and her friends went to the cinema and talked about boys and make-up by a hushed gasp. She recognized the person it came from: Edmund. Susan looked at him, wondering why he had made such a noise, but she didn't say anything. She couldn't honestly say she cared much, though he had admittedly sparked her curiosity.
"What's wrong?" Lucy whispered softly to him, curious as well.
Edmund's eyes were wide as he scanned the page he was on. Susan couldn't see what was so interesting about it; it was just a bunch of boring words on a boring page in one of the most boring books she had ever read.
"I've found him!" Edmund whispered back excitedly. He was excited, that much she could tell, little as she had been seeing him lately.
Lucy gasped too, similar to the way Edmund had only a moment ago. "Where?" She asked excitedly. Susan rolled her eyes and sighed. Here they are, playing their silly little games again. How childish, she thought.
Her siblings didn't see her rolling her eyes, and either they didn't notice her sigh or they chose to ignore it- Edmund showed her the page number promptly and Lucy flipped through her own bible to what Susan was assuming the same page. Lucy's eyes scanned the page quickly, much faster than a little girl like her should be able to read, especially things so old and confusing. Susan just rolled her eyes again and looked to the pulpit where the priest was still speaking.
A couple minutes after looking at the alter, however, she heard another gasp, this one of delighted surprise. She heard her sister fidgeting around and whispering to Peter, presumably about the same thing that Edmund told her about. Shortly after another gasp could be heard. All three of her other siblings put their heads together and started whispering conspiratorially. Bother. Susan thought. Her reputation would be ruined after this; Susan tried glaring at them to get them to stop talking- she could feel peoples' eyes on them. "Hush!" She whispered harshly.
Once again, her siblings ignored her, and went back to talking about the bible and finding someone, at long last.
That day, mass had seemed to last forever- when it was finally over, Susan had sternly told off her siblings for being so loud and making such a fuss in church, of all places. They had brushed her off with a sincere sorry, and then went back to talking about Him. Susan had avoided it; His memory still gave her that melancholy feeling, though she often tried to convince herself that He wasn't real.
That was the first day. Every mass afterwards, they listened to every word spoken by the priest, drinking it in like a man drinks water after being in the desert for many days without refreshment.
After her siblings' deaths, and being reconciled with Aslan, Susan had drifted away from the church. She hadn't gone since the Sunday before their deaths. Still, even so long after the crash, as well as the gift of new hope and love from Aslan, she felt a stab of pain in her breast when she thought of any one of them.
Now, it was mourning for them, for their memories. No matter how much she understood that they were with Aslan now, the way it should be, she still irrationally wanted them to be with her. She ached for Lucy's innocence and joy, Edmund's witty tongue and wisdom, and Peter's protectiveness and comforting authority. She wished that she hadn't treated them so horridly in the last years of their lives.
But, more strongly than she ached for any of them, she ached for Aslan in England. She knew she needed His strength, to guide her and give her strength. She wanted to be able to stay close to him, to have a name to pray to in England. It was all very well to pray to Him in England by the name Aslan, but it didn't sound right here- oh, it still inspired the fiery love that she felt when she heard the name, but it wasn't the same as in Narnia, and she had a feeling it couldn't be the same in any where but Narnia.
And so began the long quest to find Him amongst her world.
She went to church once more, to see if it was truly He that they had found that one day. She didn't think that they were wrong, but she wanted to be sure.
She went and found she was still as bored by the preaching, though she now had the grace to actually listen to the priest, as well as watching him as she had before. When she wasn't hit by any inspiration, she dismissed her memories as being wrong- perhaps they had been talking about something different, or maybe she was imagining it. Either way, she generally gave up on Christianity, not sure if she had imagined it. She researched all the religions to try and make a connection (besides Christianity- she dismissed it because she thought she had already tried it out) but nothing matched up with Aslan. It was depressing, and many nights she would come home from the library after working at the local seamstresses tired and disheartened.
Many nights, she would cry herself to sleep, mourning her siblings and other family and friends, crying for her loneliness. She had no more friends; ever since the day of her family's deaths they had turned their backs on her, leaving her alone and desperate for any type of love, but especially Aslan's. Lucy had often told Susan that her friends were undependable; Susan should have known that she would be right.
The only people left in Susan's life were Aunt Alberta and her husband, as well as her Aunt Barbara and Uncle Frank. She knew that the former hated her now, and would never accept her into their home again, based on their opinion that she and her siblings had "ruined" Eustace. And, as much as she would like to be able to claim that responsibility, she knew that it was, in reality, Aslan that had done the alleged "ruining".
Aunt Barbara and Uncle Frank, however, were much more welcoming- she often visited their house on Saturdays for breakfast and tea. They comforted each other for their losses, though Susan admittedly spent much more time with her aunt.
Her aunts were avid Christians, Catholics to be precise, however, so she tried to avoid coming on Sundays so she wouldn't have to go to Church.
But one day, Good Friday, in fact, she simply couldn't avoid it. Aunt Barbara had invited her to go to church with them, and Susan had seen no escape and had therefore accepted the invite.
So, it was with the impression that she was to be sincerely bored that Susan entered the large church that her Aunt and Uncle attended.
They took their seats, relatively close to the alter, only a few pews away. They had made sure to get there at least thirty minutes early, so they were able to secure very nice seats in the middle aisle. (Aunt Barbara had always had a fear of being late)
All was quiet as Susan and her family knelt down on the kneelers to pray. Susan prayed, not to God, but to Aslan instead. She thanked him and asked him to give her strength, though the greatest thing that she asked of him was to show him to her as soon as he could.
She sat back down much before her aunt and uncle did, and found she was at a loss of what to do. She knew that, were Peter here, he would have whispered something funny in her ear, and passed the time with talking about Narnia in a very quiet voice. Edmund would have flipped through the Bible in the pew, most likely reading the proverbs and psalms about wisdom to contrast and compare the ones that had been in Narnia. And Lucy, her dear little sister, would have looked at the many melodies in the song books to see if she would have been able to play it on her old lyre and pipes. She might have even twitched her fingers in longing to play something, or perhaps hummed the notes in her pretty little soprano voice. And Susan knew that she would have watched them all, happy that they were so happy, thankful for their love and presence.
Her longing to have them by her side was so strong that her eyes started stinging in warning. She quickly turned her thoughts away from her lost loved ones and instead looked around the church.
There were high arches that reminded her of the throne room in Cair Paravel. The throne room had been much more open, without all the pews and chairs that took up so much space, and instead of open windows and balconies there were stain glassed pictures on every wall.
They depicted stories and people, some happy some sad. There were figurines in every nook and cranny. One was of a beautiful woman with caring, loving blue eyes and dark hair that might have fallen down gracefully over her shoulder, had it not been covered by a veil of blue fabric. Susan recognized her to be Mary, mother of Christ.
And there was one of the holy family- Mary, the same woman of before, holding a young babe who had a halo 'round his head and standing next to a man with a beard, holding a carpenter's tools.
But the one that caught her eyes the most was the one at the very front of the room, directly behind the alter in a window high up, so high that she had to crane her neck to see it.
It showed a beautiful white lamb on a lush green hill, one that reminded Susan of Narnia, and one man. The man had blue eyes like Mary's but his were infinitely deeper than hers, filled with wisdom that she had seen in only one other pair of eyes. He looked at the sheep with such love; the love of a parent to his child, but something so much more...
It was mind blowing to think that someone had actually made that piece of art, and it hadn't been there for all time.
The man was carrying another sheep close to his chest, and many others were following him. The whole thing was gorgeous, to say the least, and Susan had never seen anything like it, even in Cair Paravel.
Underneath the window, there was a statue of the same man suspended on a cross attached to the wall. He had his head tilted down slightly, signifying that he had died already. His arms were open wide, and each hand had a nail in them, as well as through his feet. Above his head, there was a piece of paper that said "inri". It reminded her of something, something that she couldn't name, but she could feel all too well. It gave her great sadness, but for some reason, she felt a spark of joy as well. She didn't understand why she was suddenly feeling it then; she had come to Good Friday every year of her life, and she had never felt it before. Granted, she hadn't ever actually paid attention to the churches she went to, but still.
She couldn't seem to look away, and she was so caught up in her thinking, of Aslan and love and what everything meant, she almost didn't notice mass starting until everyone around her stood up to start singing.
She stood up as well and sang along to the song that was familiar to her from the days that she had gone to church when she was younger. Her heart ached for Peter, who would have harmonized with her, and Lucy and Edmund who would have harmonized with each other in turn- they had always made singing fun, though Susan knew Lucy was always the best at it, with Edmund in second. Peter's voice had always been a bit too deep to sound really well when singing and Susan's too high, which made them a good match.
As soon as the singing started, the priest walked in with his two alter-boys. They walked down the middle aisle, right next to Susan's pew, where she sat in the middle.
He had a kindly face, and it reminded her of what Mr. Beaver's face may have looked like had he been human.
In front of the priest was a man holding a great book over his head proudly; he placed it on a podium on the alter with a microphone by it.
Finally, the song was over and most of her aching was gone. The alter boys stood by their chairs and the priest, Father Mannings, if she remembered correctly, started the mass in standard procedure in all but a couple sentences of Good Friday, and the remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ. Susan had heard it all before, but she couldn't help but feel another odd spark ignite in her, one that reminded her of something, but when she tried to put her finger on the name of the what it reminded her of, she couldn't quite tell what it was; it was on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn't seem to speak it- she couldn't tell if it was a bad sentiment or a good one, but she could feel a sort of anticipation come over her, as though something huge was about to happen and she couldn't tell what it was yet.
She put it off as waiting for mass to be over, though that didn't seem to be quite right.
Soon, they were all told to sit as they listened to the story of the Passion. The man that had carried the book before walked forward to stand behind the podium, and he laboriously turned on the microphone. Susan didn't know why, but she was impatient for him to start, as though it was vitally important for her to hear the words he spoke, though she had heard them every year of her life.
"It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, "Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people." the man began.
"While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, "Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." And they scolded her. But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her."
"Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him."
For some reason, Susan was still waiting; it was odd- she didn't know what she was waiting for. But she listened well, following her instincts.
The man began with the Last Supper, a story Susan was very familiar with. He went on slowly, and Susan was beginning to feel aggravated with waiting for whatever it was when, finally, she heard what it seemed she had been waiting for.
"Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard." So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, "Rabbi!" and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled." All of them deserted him and fled."
She was beginning to see what it reminded her of.
"They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.'" But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?" But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus said, "I am; and
will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power,'
and 'coming with the clouds of heaven.'"
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?" All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, "Prophesy!" The guards also took him over and beat him. "
Susan felt a tear run down her face. She was beginning to see the connection all too well now.
"While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, "You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth." But he denied it, saying, "I do not know or understand what you are talking about." And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, "This man is one of them." But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, "Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean."But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, "I do not know this man you are talking about." At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, "Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times." And he broke down and wept."
"As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" He answered him, "You say so." Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, "Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you." But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed."
"Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, "Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?" They shouted back, "Crucify him!" Pilate asked them, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify him!" So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified."
More tears ran; she could clearly see the resemblances- how could she have over looked it before?!?
"Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace; and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him."
The water was running down her cheeks freely now, and half of her mind was rooted in her memories: memories of foul creatures beating Aslan and spitting on him, cutting of his mane, exclaiming how weak he was. Aunt Barbara and Uncle Frank were looking at her strangely, but Susan couldn't bring herself to care.
"They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take."
"It was nine o"clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews." And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!" In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also taunted him."
Her face was stained red with tear tracks now, she was sure, and her nose was running, and she felt an absolute mess, but she couldn't bring herself to care; Here Aslan was, after all this time, and she hadn't even seen him! Abruptly, Susan stood up, and said quietly to her aunt, "I'm going to the rest room."
She walked quietly and swiftly down the aisle at the side of the church to the bathroom where she promptly sat on a toilet and cried.
She was reminded of the horrid and gruesome things that she had witnessed at the Stone Table when she was twelve- even when she had brainwashed herself into believing Narnia was a game she had nightmares about. And now, to think, Aslan had gone through all of it before!
She wiped at her tears but they kept flowing, until it seemed that she would never stop crying.
But not only did she cry of sadness and horror for Aslan, she cried for Joy as well- she had finally found Him! Right where she had been all along, and he was right in front of her all this time! And, oh, to know how much he loved her- that he would sacrifice his life to give her hers. How could she ever be worthy?!?
She had a feeling that she couldn't be, but that that was the whole point.
Now, she supposed she knew how Edmund must have felt when he found out that Aslan had died in his place- Ed had isolated himself for days until he finally got into a normal routine. Years later, he told her what he had concluded about it: "I think that I won't ever be worthy of His love and sacrifice. But I've got a feeling that I shouldn't question it- all I can do is be thankful for it and do the best I can to make up for it." He had said to her. And how proud of him she had been! Already, his wisdom had begun to shine through, only to grow in the upcoming years.
So, it was this conclusion she came to as well when she finally wiped her face dry of all the tears and tear tracks down her face with warm water. She was thankful now that she had given up most of her makeup- she would have been a sight if she had worn all the products that she might have a few months ago.
She walked back out into the church only to find that the distribution of the Eucharist was taking place. She sighed with relief that she could get back to her pew with hardly anyone noticing- she tried to hide it, but she was now very embarrassed that she had run out of the mass before like that. She wondered how she was going to explain it to her Aunt.
She took the body and the bread and sat down in the pew and listened to the rest of mass with a new attentiveness. Though she had heard each word hundreds of times before, she felt that she could never get enough. Susan liked to imagine that the joy that had been shining in Lucy's face when she was at church was on her face now.
Susan listened to the rest of mass with rapt attention, and when it was over, she was almost sorry to leave.
"Are you alright, dear?" Aunt Barbara asked on the short drive back.
"I'm better than I've been in a long time, Aunt Barb." She replied honestly.
"It didn't seem like that before." Uncle Frank pushed. "Are you sure you're alright?"
"I just feel like I had been blind before, and never known of the beautiful colors of our world and I have finally opened my eyes, only to be dazzled with the fact that everything I had ever wanted was actually right in front of me. I feel like I was all alone before, but now I have a hand to hold and a person to guide me."
Susan supposed by the looks that she was receiving they hadn't ever heard such a thing from so young a girl before. But she simply looked out the window absently, and gave thanks to Him- the Truth, the Way, and the Light.
A/N: Whoo! That took a while to write! I said that I might write a
second part to When Aslan Roars, and I did! Wow. I actually did what
I said I would do. Shocker.
Anyhoo, I'm sorry about the really long scripture and stuff. It might've been longer, but I decided to cut down on the parts that didn't really pertain to what I needed her to hear.
I don't know if Susan actually has an Aunt Barbara and Uncle Frank- the only aunt and uncle I know of that she had(Eustace's parents) didn't even go to church, so I had to improvise.
I hope this is a bit more original than the last one. I wouldn't know- I've basically been avoiding all Susanfics while writing this so I didn't steal ideas.
I enjoy writing for Susan, so I might write some more.. We'll see. I'll have to think of something to write about. So, if you have any ideas, tell me about it! :).
Thanks for reading it! I would love to get some feed back, as well as some helpful criticism- how else will my writing improve? Tell me about any mistakes that you noticed, and I'll try to revise it ASAP. :)
Much thanks and many blessings,